Channel 12, a Hebrew-language news site, published an article on Sunday accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of allocating resources to a project aimed at building a third temple on the Temple Mount. The article blames Christians for bringing red heifers to Israel.

The Channel 12 article cites a project by Boneh Israel, an organization that brings together Jews and Christians. In cooperation with the Temple Institute, Boneh Israel successfully imported five red calves in September to Israel from Texas for the purpose of raising them for the Biblical commandment.

The red heifer was the main component in the Biblically mandated process of ritual purification for impurity that results from proximity or contact with a dead body. Because the elements needed for this ceremony have been lacking since the destruction of the Second Temple, all Jews today are considered ritually impure, thereby preventing the return of the Temple service.

The article noted that the Temple Institutes was founded by Rabbi Yisrael Ariel who was a former member of the right-wing Kach party which was declared illegal by the Israeli government. The article claimed that Rabbi Ariel is the “spiritual patron” of the Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir.

The article claimed that the Netanyahu government is complicit.

“A few years ago, the Jerusalem Ministry submitted a design proposal for the construction of the Mount of Olives Promenade, and officials who were involved in the planning claim that its route is intended to serve, among other things, the future ceremony of burning the cow,” the article wrote, also blaming the Ministry of Agriculture for complicity by issuing permits for importing the red calves. The article noted that the ministry exempted the calves from being ear-tagged as it would have rendered them unfit for the mitzvah.

The article also noted that the Minister for Jerusalem and Heritage, Nathaniel Isaac attended the ceremony at Ben Gurion International Airport when the calves arrived, citing this as proof that Netanyahu’s government is paving the way for the Third Temple.

The article quoted Dr. Tomer Persico,a Research Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute, who claimed that  Christians are involved in the project in order to help bring about the “Temple of the Antichrist”.

“The Antichrist, the ‘Satan’ one might say, needs to come here and defile the Temple,” notes Persico. “Then the war of Gog and Magog begins, in which two-thirds of the Jews die, and one-third of them convert to Christianity. The world doesn’t exactly last either. You know, such  is a biblical disaster.”

The Ministry of Heritage responded to Channel 12 by stating that the project did not receive funding from the government.

“The arrival of the red cows in Israel was not carried out or budgeted for by the Ministry. The Director General of the Ministry participated in the ceremony of their arrival privately and during the tenure of the previous government. The plan for the promenade on the Mount of Olives was intended for tourism purposes and not for the benefit of the Red Cow fire.”

The Ministry of Agriculture stated in response:  “An import license for the source is granted as long as the country is approved for the type of import requested. The US has been approved for this for about a year. The calves mentioned in the article were imported for breeding purposes, and met all the import conditions required by the ministry.”

The article raised an uproar among the Arab media. Al Jazeera cited Dr. Saleh Lutfi, “a researcher in Jewish, Zionist, and political affairs,” as saying that in light of the current Palestinian and regional circumstances, the Netanyahu government the time is ripe to “realize the myth of building the alleged ‘Third Temple.’”

“All parties in the government coalition, including the Likud Party, agree among themselves on the need to continue preparations and preparations for the construction of the Temple, the preparation of priests’ clothing, the raising of the red cow, and the strengthening of the position of the Chief Rabbi,” Lufti wrote.

He went on to claim that the idea of rebuilding the Temple “has become rooted even among large segments of the Israeli secular and liberal movement, as well as among the circles of the so-called Jewish Zionist left.”

Despite the preparations and the allocation of budgets, Lufti reasoned that the Netanyahu government is  not currently building the Temple in the courtyards of the Temple Mount, pointing out that this would be “a suicidal step for the Israeli entity, which would ignite a religious uprising in historic Palestine, taking into account that it will spread to the Arab and Islamic worlds, which will expose the region to a religious war.”

“The temple includes a biblical council (Sanhedrin) as well, deciding and prosecuting according to Jewish religious provisions, and paves the way for the preparation of the king, or the so-called chief rabbi, who does not necessarily rule in a democratic manner.”

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