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Israel’s far-right minister Itamar Ben-Gvir entered the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, a move Palestinians call an “unprecedented provocation.”
Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir entered the compound that houses the Al-Aqsa mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, threatening a backlash from Palestinians who called the move an “unprecedented provocation”.
Ben-Gvir was spotted touring the site on Tuesday amid heavy security.
“Our government will not give in to the threats of Hamas,” Ben-Gvir said in a statement released by his spokesman, after the Palestinian group that rules the besieged Gaza Strip warned that the move was a “red line.”
Israeli opposition leader and former prime minister Yair Lapid warned that such a visit by Ben-Gvir would lead to violence.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said it “strongly condemns the attack on the Al-Aqsa Mosque by extremist Minister Ben-Gwir and considers it an unprecedented provocation and a dangerous escalation of the conflict.”
Ben-Gvir was sworn in last week as part of a new government led by Benjamin Netanyahu, which includes far-right and religious parties.
Breaking: Far-right extremist Itamar Ben Gvir, in his capacity as Minister of National Security, entered the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif early this morning, despite reports of a postponement of his planned visit. pic.twitter.com/AQ9njlWGXk
— Ir Amim English (@IrAmimAlerts) in 2023 January 3
In the compound, Islam’s third holiest site after Mecca and Medina, the status quo allows only Muslim worship. Israel’s far right tried to change that and allow Jews to pray at the site, despite opposition from many ultra-Orthodox Jews and a ban on rabbis leading the charge.
Palestinians fear this could change the status quo, as far-right Israelis have called for a Jewish temple to be built on the site over the remains of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Israeli media reported that Netanyahu was in talks with Ben-Gvir after it emerged that he was planning to enter the site.
The entry of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon into this place in 2000. led to the Second Palestinian Intifada or Uprising.
Ben-Gvir’s attempt to enter the site earlier this week drew threats from Hamas.
“Any escalation at Al-Aqsa Mosque will explode the situation and the occupation government will be responsible,” Hamas spokesman Abdel-Latif al-Qanoua said in a statement on Monday.
Ben-Gvir holds far-right views on Palestinians and has called for their displacement. He repeatedly joined Israeli settlers in storming the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. He also sparked a wave of escalation in the occupied city by establishing an office in February in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, where Palestinians face mass expulsions.
A settler in Kiryat Araba, one of the most radical settlements in the occupied West Bank (illegal under international law), Ben-Gvir was convicted of inciting racism, destroying property, possessing propaganda material for a “terrorist” organization and supporting a “terrorist” organization. terror’ organization, Meir Kahane’s banned Kach group, which he joined at the age of 16.
Ben-Gvir is also famous for having on his wall a picture of Baruch Goldstein, the Israeli-American who massacred 29 Palestinian worshipers at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron in 1994.
Last November, Israeli President Isaac Herzog warned in a leaked audio recording that “the whole world is worried” about Ben-Gvir’s views.
Earlier Tuesday, Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian teenager in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian health officials and witnesses said. The Israeli military has not yet commented on the incident.