The Israeli opposition and Hamas both warned that the minister’s visit to al-Aqsa could trigger a dangerous escalation, and the Palestinian Authority condemns it.
Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s far-right minister of national security, entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque’s courtyards on Tuesday in occupied East Jerusalem, a move sure to aggravate tensions.
Ben-Gvir can be seen touring the courtyards with a large security detail in a video that was shared on social media.
If the new security minister visits Al-Aqsa Mosque as he promised to do on Sunday, the Palestinian movement Hamas warned Israel that it “won’t sit idly by.”.
Tuesday’s visit ended with Ben-Gvir declaring: “Our government will not capitulate to Hamas threats.
He referred to the location by its Jewish name, the Temple Mount, saying that it was “the most important place for the people of Israel.”.
“We uphold the freedom of movement for Muslims and Christians, but Jews also visit the site, and those who threaten must be dealt with harshly. “.
The site of the Jewish temple that was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE is now home to Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites.
Jewish prayer has been prohibited at the location since Israel occupied it after the Middle East War in 1967, but in recent years, far-right settlers like Ben-Gvir—some of whom want to destroy Al-Aqsa and replace it with a third Jewish temple—have regularly prayed there while under heavy security.
In a statement, the foreign ministry of the Palestinian Authority, which is overseen by Fatah, a rival of Hamas, said that it holds Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “responsible for Ben-Gvir’s storming of Al-Aqsa and its consequences.”.
It went on to say that it “strongly condemns the extremist minister Ben-Gvir’s storming of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and considers it an unprecedented provocation and a serious threat” to regional stability.
The upcoming visit was denounced on Monday by Yair Lapid, who last week succeeded Netanyahu as prime minister. He called it a “deliberate provocation” that would cause fatalities.
Netanyahu was urged by Lapid to use restraint with his new national security minister.
The visit had been postponed, according to early reports in the Hebrew media that were made by Netanyahu and Ben-Gvir. Netanyahu’s Likud party, though, refuted the existence of such a request.
The United States expressed worry about the visit on Tuesday.
“The United States is unwavering. for the maintenance of the status quo in regards to Jerusalem’s holy sites,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
Any unilateral action that puts the current situation in danger is unacceptable, she continued.
The visit “has the potential to exacerbate tensions and to provoke violence,” according to State Department spokesman Ned Price. ”
United Arab Emirates issued a statement denouncing the storming of Al-Aqsa. The UAE normalized relations with Israel in 2020 as part of the Abraham Accords, which were supported by the US.
The attack on the Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard by an Israeli minister while being protected by Israeli forces was strongly condemned by the UAE today, according to the statement.
In order to prevent further escalation and instability in the region, it was demanded that “Israeli authorities take responsibility.”
Additionally, the UAE “stressed the need to support all regional and global efforts to advance the Middle East peace process, end illegal practices that jeopardize the two-state solution, and establish an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.”