JERUSALEM, Israel – The recent round of terror and trouble related to Jerusalem's Temple Mount was funded and fueled by Iran and Turkey, Israeli experts and media reports are saying.
On July 14, three Israeli Arabs carried out a terror attack in Jerusalem's Old City, killing two Israeli policemen with weapons they had stored on the Temple Mount. The Palestinian street exploded when Israel installed metal detectors and other security measures for Muslims entering the holy site.
Israel was forced to remove the devices less than two weeks later in the face of a diplomatic crisis with Jordan. But it turns out the "spontaneous" rage may not have been so unplanned.
"Iran and Turkey – while there is a big difference between these two countries – took a negative position and not in calming down and bringing this crisis to an end but on the contrary, encouraging those radicals," said Middle East expert Professor Eyal Zisser of Tel Aviv University.
"On the one hand Iranian reports show us that Iranian money was used to encourage Palestinians to go demonstrate and to raise the tensions sometimes in contradiction to the policy of the Palestinian Authority," Zisser said in a phone interview with The Israel Project.
According to press reports, Zisser said, the Iranian money was used to encourage the struggle against Israel on Facebook and other social media.
The Turks also gave money to encourage "awareness" among Israeli Arabs as to the "so-called Israeli threat" to the holy places and to encourage them to fight with Israel over those places, Zisser added.
According to a report in the Israeli daily Israel HaYom that quoted unnamed Palestinian sources and foreign media reports, Iranian NGOs spent millions of shekels to distribute prepackaged meals to protestors.
Included in the food packets was a note depicting the Dome of the Rock and a Palestinian flag and including a "famous quote" attributed to Iranian Revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who said, "With the help of Allah, Palestine will be liberated! Jerusalem is ours."
Iranian leaders regularly call for the destruction of Israel.
But Iran's involvement in the recent trouble might even go further according to Arabic affairs expert Pinhas Inbari from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Inbari told CBN News from the first day, Palestinian officials told him that Iran was behind the actual July 14 terror attack on the Temple Mount.
According to Inbari, the tactic is not new. The Iranians want to pre-occupy the Arabs with Israel so they can expand their influence, Inbari said. He said the current round of violence signaled another step in Iran accomplishing that goal of expansion.
Zisser said that while Israel should be concerned about this development, it's the Palestinians that have the most to lose.
"All [the Iranian] want is to use the Palestinians in order to promote their own interests," Zisser said. "It's not the Palestinian interest that they want to promote or serve and the Palestinians should be fully aware of this and try to avoid becoming a tool in the hands of the others."