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Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir Visits the Temple Mount in Jerusalem

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avatar by i24 News and Algemeiner Staff

Israeli far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir tours Mahane Yehuda market in the run up to Israel’s elections in Jerusalem, September 30, 2022. Photo: REUTERS/Amir Cohen

i24News – Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir visited the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Tuesday morning in the first visit to the contentious holy site by an Israeli minister in five years.

Hebrew media reported on Sunday that Jewish Power party leader had informed police of his intentions to ascend to the Temple Mount this week, although the far-right member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition denied those reports.

Netanyahu reportedly spoke with Ben-Gvir on Monday and gave his approval to the visit, with Likud confirming that the prime minister did not object to the pilgrimage after consultations with security officials.

Ben-Gvir ascended to the holy site for Jews and Muslims despite threats from the Gaza-based terrorist group Hamas and a warning from Opposition Leader Yair Lapid that violence would result in the decision. Lapid said that “people will die” and called on Netanyahu to intervene. However, Ben-Gvir last week said that he was going to visit the flashpoint site in the newly created role of national security minister just as he had previously as an Knesset member without a ministerial profile.

Upon his arrival, Ben-Gvir said that Israel’s new government “will not give in to threats from Hamas.” In a statement after the brief trip that lasted 13 minutes, the minister described the Temple Mount as “the most important place for the Jewish people,” and said that Jews will continue to ascend to the holy site while stressing that Jews and Muslims will continue to be allowed “freedom of movement.” He also stated that “those who make threats will be dealt with an iron fist.”

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry called Ben-Gvir’s visit to the Temple Mount “an unprecedented provocation.” Hamas also issued a statement calling the visit a “crime” and falsely accusing Ben-Gvir of “invading” the Al Aqsa Mosque and threatening the “Arab identity” of the site.

Under the “status quo,” an agreement dating back to the end of the Six Day War of 1967, Jews and other non-Muslims have limited rights on the Temple Mount and are not allowed to pray there. In recent years, however, more Jews have been visiting the holy site and praying there.

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