Forty-five years ago last month, a demented 28-year-old Australian sheepshearer, Denis Michael Rohan, set fire to Jerusalem’s al-Aksa Mosque – Islam’s third holiest site. Muslim riots as far abroad as India took thousands of lives and Israel’s international standing was shaken. In a three-part series based on his just-published eBook, Jerusalem on Earth: The Post-Six Day War decades, former Jerusalem Reporter Abraham Rabinovich describes the event and Rohan’s subsequent trial.

Denis Rohan climbed a tree on the Temple Mount at five in the afternoon and settled down on a limb to wait for darkness. It would be a long wait, since the August sun did not set until well past seven. Through the branches he could see worshipers coming out of al-Aksa Mosque after the last prayers of the day. The tree was well away from the paths leading out of the walled compound. As the sun illuminated the Mount of Olives across the narrow Kidron Valley, the Australian raised the camera dangling from his neck and photographed the scene. The picture would provide proof, if any were needed, that he had been there. With dusk, he slid to the ground and gratefully stretched his limbs.

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