The minister of Israel National SecurityItamar Ben-Gvir, visited the mosque complex al aqsa from Jerusalem on Tuesday for the first time since taking office, his spokesman said, angering Palestinians who view the move as a provocation.
“Our government will not give in to threats from Hamas”Ben-Gvir said in a statement released by his spokesman, after the Palestinian militant group warned that such a move was a “red line.”
Ben-Gvir’s visit comes days after he took over as national security minister, a position that gives him powers over the police.
the mosque of Al-Aqsa is the third holiest site in Islam and the holiest site for Jews, who refer to the complex as the Temple Mount.
“The Temple Mount is the most important place for the people of Israel, and we maintain freedom of movement for Muslims and Christians, but Jews will also go up the mount, and those who make threats must be dealt with, with an iron hand.” , said.
Located within East Jerusalem annexed by Israel, the complex is managed by the waqf islamic affairs councilwith Israeli forces operating there and controlling access.
Ben-Gvir has lobbied to review the management of the site to allow Jewish prayer there, a move opposed by leading rabbinical authorities.
Waqf guards told the AFP what Ben-Gvir was accompanied by units of the Israeli security forceswhile a drone flew over the holy place.
While Ben-Gvir has visited the complex numerous times since entering Parliament in April 2021, his presence as a minister carries far greater weight.
A controversial 2000 visit by then-opposition leader Ariel Sharon was one of the main triggers for the second intifada, or Palestinian uprising, which lasted until 2005.
Prior to Ben-Gvir’s visit, the senior Palestinian official Hussein Al Sheikh He said Monday that it would be a “blatant and shameless provocation that requires a Palestinian, Arab and international response.”
Basem Naim, a senior Hamas official, warned last week that such a step would be “a big red line and it would lead to an explosion.”
Hamas rules the Gaza Strip and an 11-day war broke out in the territory between Palestinian militants and Israel in May 2021, following violence at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Hundreds of Palestinians and dozens of Israeli policemen were injured. in earlier clashes in east Jerusalem, initially sparked by restrictions on Palestinian gatherings and possible evictions of residents.
During this period, Ben-Gvir rallied his supporters at the homes of Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem, which has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War.
For years seen as a fringe figure, the Jewish Power leader entered mainstream politics with the backing of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Ben-Gvir has advocated for the expulsion of Israeli Arabs deemed disloyal to the state and for the annexation of the occupied West Bank.
Until a few years ago, he had in his living room a portrait of Baruch Goldstein, who massacred 29 Palestinian worshipers in a Hebron mosque in 1994.
He began his ministerial career on December 29, as part of the most right-wing government in Israel’s history led by Netanyahu.
(With information from AFP)
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