National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s visit to the Temple Mount on Sunday morning, two days after Jerusalem Day, was met with fierce criticism from the international community.
“I am happy to go up to the Temple Mount, the most important place for the people of Israel,” said Ben-Gvir during the visit. “It should be said that the police are doing a wonderful job here and once again proving who is in charge in Jerusalem. All of Hamas’s threats will not [change anything], we are in charge of Jerusalem and the entire Land of Israel.”
"It should be said that the police are doing a wonderful job here and once again proving who is the master in Jerusalem. All the threats of Hamas will not [change anything], we are the masters of Jerusalem and the entire Land of Israel."Itamar Ben-Gvir
Jordan, Palestinians condemn Ben-Gvir's visit, warn of escalation
Palestinian Authority spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh called the visit a “flagrant attack on al-Aqsa,” warning that it would have “serious repercussions,” according to the Palestinian WAFA news agency.
“The entry of the extremist Ben-Gvir at an early hour, like a thief, into the Aqsa Mosque square will not change reality and will not impose Israeli sovereignty over it,” added Abu Rudeineh.
The Jordanian Foreign Ministry called the visit a “dangerous and unacceptable escalation” and “a flagrant and unacceptable violation of international law, and of the historical and legal status quo in Jerusalem and its sanctities.
“The continuous violations and attacks on the Islamic and Christian sanctities in Jerusalem, in conjunction with the continuation of unilateral measures of settlement expansion and continuous incursions into the occupied Palestinian territories, warns of further escalation, and represents a dangerous trend that the international community must work to stop immediately.”
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said Ben-Gvir committed a “clear breach of international law.
“It is in no way acceptable that Israeli government members challenge the historical status of al-Haram al-Sharif [Temple Mount] in this manner and commit inflammatory and fascistic actions,” added the ministry. “We call on the Israeli government once again to act responsibly, and to put an end to all kinds of provocative actions violating the historical status of al-Haram al-Sharif that is based on international law.”
The Saudi Foreign Ministry said “these systematic practices are considered a flagrant violation of all international norms and covenants, and a provocation of the feelings of Muslims around the world. The ministry holds the Israeli occupation forces fully responsible for the repercussions of the continuation of these violations.”
Hamas’s Jerusalem spokesman Mohammed Hamada said the terrorist movement would “not leave al-Aqsa alone” and warned that Israel will “bear responsibility for the barbaric incursions of its ministers and herds of settlers.”
Hamada called on Palestinians and Arabs in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Israeli territory to “intensify” their presence in al-Aqsa to confront “all attempts to desecrate and Judaize it.”
The Tag Meir organization said “Ben-Gvir wants to forcefully change the status quo on the Temple Mount and set Jerusalem and the Middle East on fire. Until when will we continue to pay the price of the irresponsible appointment of Ben-Gvir to the position of national security minister of the State of Israel?”
Over 1,000 Jews visit the Temple Mount for Jerusalem Day
While about 1,146 Jews visited the Temple Mount on Thursday amid Jerusalem Day festivities, including other coalition ministers, the minister himself did not.
Ben-Gvir on Sunday also referenced ongoing tensions surrounding the national budget, saying, “We need to remember our brothers in the Negev and the Galilee. In the upcoming budget, we must invest in the Negev and the Galilee. Jerusalem is our soul, the Negev and the Galilee is our soul, we must invest, we must act there, we must be the owners of both the Negev and the Galilee, and the foundation of this is the budget.”
The head of the Temple Mount Administration, Rabbi Shimshon Elbaum, welcomed the visit stating “Ben-Gvir has been active since his youth in favor of Jewish pilgrimages to the Temple Mount, and since taking office has already caused significant improvements, removing hundreds of harassers and strengthening Israel’s rule on the Temple Mount.”
On Thursday, Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount raised the Israeli flag while singing the national anthem “Hatikva,” as over a thousand Jews visited the complex to mark Jerusalem Day. Despite the holiday officially being on Friday, most of the festivities were moved to Thursday to avoid a desecration of Shabbat.
Video from the scene showed a man carrying a small flag while the group walking with him sang “Hatikva.”. The man carrying the flag was detained. At least three additional individuals raised Israeli flags on the Mount on Thursday as well.
The MKs who visited the Temple Mount on Thursday included Negev and Galilee and National Resilience Minister Yitzhak Wasserlauf (Otzma Yehudit) and Likud MKs Dan Illouz, Ariel Kallner and Amit Halevi.
Unrest in Old City since Jerusalem Day
Also on Thursday, Palestinian media outlets affiliated with Hamas, including the Shehab news agency, published a graphic showing Ben-Gvir with a red target over him and the words “Ben-Gvir is a target for our heroes and the wrath of our revolutionaries.”
On Friday afternoon, clashes erupted between Palestinians, Jews and Israel Police near the Lions’ Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem, shortly before Friday prayers were set to begin at al-Aqsa. Two Israeli civilians and a police officer were injured amid the violence.
Footage reportedly from the scene showed Jews dancing and singing in the area before fights erupted and police intervened, throwing stun grenades into the crowd. Palestinians were seen throwing stones at Jewish individuals during the clashes. The windshields of vehicles belonging to Palestinians were smashed as well, according to Palestinian reports. A number of Palestinians were reportedly injured amid the violence.