February 4, 2023

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Violent protests after Israeli minister visits mosque sites

Violent protests after Israeli minister visits mosque sites

Israeli far-right and new national security minister Itamar Ben Gvir made a brief visit on Tuesday to a site of mosques in east Jerusalem, a holy site at the heart of Israeli-Palestinian tensions, sparking a wave of condemnation.

A member of the most right-wing government in Israel’s history, Mr. Ben Gurr was accompanied during his visit by members of the Israeli Defense Forces. Site guards told AFP the drone was flying over the esplanade.

After his departure, the situation on the esplanade remained calm and worshipers and visitors were able to access it without incident, the AFP journalist noted.

Islam’s third holiest site and Judaism’s holiest site known as the “Temple Mount”, the Esplanade of Mosques is located in the Old City of Jerusalem, in the occupied Palestinian territory annexed by Israel.

Under a historic position, non-Muslims can visit the site at certain times but cannot pray there. However, in recent years, a growing number of Jews, mostly nationalists, ostensibly pray there, condemned as a “provocation” by the Palestinians and many countries in the Middle East.

Known for his anti-Palestinian tendencies, Mr. Ben Gurr had announced his intention to go there, and Hamas, the Palestinian Authority in Gaza and Israel’s pet power, had warned that such a visit would be a “prelude to escalation”. .

“The Israeli government, of which I am a member, will not submit to a vicious and murderous system,” said Mr. Ben Gvir hit back on Twitter. “If Hamas thinks that threats will deter me, let them understand that times have changed.”

– “Unprecedented Provocation” –

“Our Palestinian people will continue to defend their holy sites and al-Aqsa Mosque,” said Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassim, calling Ben Jivir’s displacement “a crime.”

It was an “unprecedented provocation,” the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said in Ramallah, an Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory in the West Bank.

Mr. Ben Gvir had previously visited the venue as an MP, but this was his first since entering government last week.

Contrary to the Israeli cleric’s stance, he pleads that Jews be allowed to enter and pray there.

“What do people say when they see a minister, an observant Jew, transgressing the rank of rabbinate,” wrote Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef in a letter to Ben Gvir.

Several Arab countries and Iran have condemned his visit.

Jordan condemned a “provocation” and recommended “escalation” and recalled the Israeli ambassador to Amman, while the United Arab Emirates called for “an end to serious and provocative violations” on the site.

Saudi Arabia, Islam’s holiest sites, and Morocco, which heads the Al Quds Committee [Jérusalem]The Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation have also condemned it.

In Iran, Israel’s staunch adversary, a Foreign Ministry spokesman condemned the “violation of international law and an insult to the values ​​of Muslims around the world.”

“Israel’s attack on the holy sites in Jerusalem will not only explode the situation inside Palestine, but will tear the whole region apart,” Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said on Tuesday evening.

– “Position” –

For its part, Berlin called on Tuesday to “avoid actions that could increase tensions”. The “situation” on this esplanade in Jerusalem “has long contributed to the maintenance of fragile peace and security around the holy sites,” German Ambassador to Israel Steffen Seibert underlined on Twitter.

Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Knights said the Biden administration has “cleared the Israeli government of any action that would undermine the status of the holy sites,” according to a spokesman for the U.S. Office of Palestinian Affairs. .

In a statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was “committed to strictly maintaining the status quo,” emphasizing that other ministers had visited the Esplanade in the past.

– “Explosion” –

“This is what happens when a weak prime minister is forced to hand over responsibility to the most irresponsible person in the Middle East at the most explosive place in the Middle East,” the opposition leader tweeted. , Yair Lapid.

In 2000, the arrival of then-right-wing opposition leader Ariel Sharon led to bloody clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police, marking the start of the second intifada (Palestinian uprising, 2000-2005).

In May 2021, after violence at the compound and elsewhere in East Jerusalem, Hamas fired rockets into Israel, leading to an 11-day war with the Israeli army.

Mr. Ben Gvir suggests.

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