Jerusalem: a far-right Israeli minister on the exodus of the mosques
A far-right Israeli minister visited the esplanade of mosques in East Jerusalem, the Temple Mount for Jews and occupied by Israel, on Sunday morning, a move condemned by the United States, the Palestinians and Jordan, the custodians of Muslim holy sites City.
Interior Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s visit came days after “Jerusalem Day” marking the “reunification” of the city after Israel’s conquest of East Jerusalem in 1967.
A Jerusalem police spokesman said that no incident could affect the visit of Mr. Ben Gvir, who was being protected by the police.
“Don’t let Hamas’s threats scare us, I’ve been to the Temple Mount. Jerusalem is our soul,” the minister wrote on his Telegram account with a picture of his visit.
Hamas, which is in power in the Gaza Strip, condemned a previous visit in January by Ben Gvir to the site, which is Islam’s third holiest site and Judaism’s holiest.
Ben Gvir, leader of the far-right Jewish Force party, was charged with inciting violence or hate speech more than 50 times as a youth, and was convicted in 2007 of supporting a terrorist group and inciting racism .
“Attacking the Al-Aqsa Mosque is like playing with fire”, the office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reacted after an Israeli minister’s visit to the mosque’s esplanade, which is called the Muslim Noble Sanctuary or simply Al-Aqsa and Home of the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
“It will drag the region into a religious war with unimaginable consequences that will affect everyone,” Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Roudeena said in a statement quoted by the Palestinian news agency Wafa.
Hamas also condemned the visit, warning that Israel would “bear responsibility for the barbaric infiltration of its minions and hordes of settlers”. The decision “confirms the danger that threatens al-Aqsa under the arrogance of this fascist Zionist government and its far-right ministers”, wrote the Islamist Movement on Telegram.
– “Exciting” trip –
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement that the US government was “concerned about the provocative visit” by the minister. “This holy place should not be used for political purposes and we call on all parties to respect its sanctity,” he added.
Under the status quo after Israel’s conquest of East Jerusalem in 1967, non-Muslims can go to the Al-Aqsa Mosque without praying at specific times, a practice that is less and less followed by some Jewish nationalists.
The site is administered by Jordan but access to it is controlled by Israeli security forces.
A Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman said, “The Minister of National Security’s invasion of the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque and violation of its sanctity is a provocative measure” and “a dangerous and unacceptable escalation”. Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
Jordan’s Islamic Affairs Waqf Council called Ben-Ghavir’s visit a “major storming and desecration of the Al-Aqsa Mosque”.
In this tense atmosphere, the Israeli cabinet’s weekly meeting was held in an extraordinary way on Sunday afternoon in tunnels along the Western Wall, the holiest site of prayer for Jews.
“Jerusalem is ours, united forever!” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on Facebook with pictures of the underground meeting.
“Time and again, my friends and I have been forced to address international pressure from those who would re-divide Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said at the start of the meeting. According to a statement from his office, some Israeli leaders “were prepared to give in to these pressures”, he argued, but “we acted differently”.
The government, as a result of last November’s elections, is one of the most right-wing in Israel’s history, with far-right members in its ranks who do not hide their racist positions towards the Palestinians.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has killed nearly 200 people since January 1, including 35 during the new five-day war between Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip from May 9 to May 13.