An ultra-nationalist Israeli cabinet minister visited a flashpoint holy site in Jerusalem. On Tuesday for the first time since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s. New far-right government took office last week.
The visit was seen as a provocation by the Palestinians. And drew sharp condemnation from across the Arab world. And rebukes from Israeli allies.
Israel’s Nationalist Minister at Flashpoint Jerusalem
Earlier in the day, Palestinian officials said a 15-year-old. Boy was killed by Israeli army fire near the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem. The Israeli army said its forces shot dead a man involved in a violent clash with soldiers.
In Jerusalem, Itamar Ben-Gavir entered what is known. As the Temple Mount to Jews and the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims. Where a large contingent of police officers was present.
Ben-Gavir has long called for greater Jewish access to the holy sites. Which Palestinians see as provocative. And a possible precursor to Israel taking full control. Most rabbis forbid Jews from praying at the site. But in recent years there has been a growing movement of Jews supporting worship there.
The site has been the scene of frequent clashes between Palestinian protesters. And Israeli security forces, most recently in April last year.
The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem said Ambassador Thomas Neids “has been very clear in his conversations with the Israeli government. About maintaining the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem. Obstructive measures are not acceptable.”
The UAE, which recognized Israel in 2020. “Condemned the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. By an Israeli minister under the protection of Israeli forces.”
Israel’s nationalist minister visits flashpoint Jerusalem
A Foreign Ministry statement called on Israel to “stop serious and provocative violations there.” The ministry “called on the Israeli authorities to take responsibility for reducing tension. And instability in the region.”
Bahrain, which at the same time recognized Israel. Did not immediately acknowledge the incident.
A separate statement from Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry also condemned. The Israeli minister’s actions, as did statements by Kuwait and Qatar. All which did not recognize Israel’s occupation of land sought by the Palestinians for a future state.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Which serves as custodian of the contested shrine. Condemned Ben-Gavir’s visit “in the strongest terms”. Egypt warned against “the negative impact of such actions on security. And stability in the occupied territories. And territories and on the future of the peace process”.
Ben-Gavi’s intention to visit the site earlier. This week came under threat from the Islamic militant group Hamas.
Ben-Gavir wrote on Twitter after his visit that the site is “open to all. And if Hamas thinks it will stop me if it threatens me, they should understand that times have changed.”
Hamas spokesman Hazem Kassem said Ben-Gavi’s entry into the site. On Tuesday was “a continuation of the Zionist occupation of our holy sites. And the war against our Arab identity.”
He said, our Palestinian people will continue to protect their holy places and Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Ofir Gendelman, who has long served as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Arabic-language spokesman. Released a video showing that “the situation is completely calm.” At the holy site after Ben-Gavir’s departure.
The Mount Shrine is the third holiest site in Islam and an emotional symbol for Palestinians. It stands on a broad esplanade that is the holiest site for Jews. Who call it the Temple Mount because it was the location of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Competing claims to the site are at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And have sparked several rounds of violence in the past.
Ben-Gavi is the head of an ultra-nationalist religious Jewish power group. And has a history of inflammatory comments and actions against Palestinians.
On Monday, Israeli rights group B’Tselem said 2022 was the deadliest year for Palestinians since 2004. A period of intense violence that came during the Palestinian uprising. It said that about 150 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The Israeli military has been conducting almost daily raids on Palestinian towns. And cities since Palestinian attacks against Israelis last spring that killed 19 people. A new wave of attacks killed at least nine more Israelis in the fall.
In Tuesday’s shooting, the Palestinian Health Ministry said 15-year-old. Adam Ayad died of a gunshot wound to the chest. The Israeli military said border police officers were attacked in the Dhesha refugee camp near Bethlehem. It said soldiers fired at people throwing firebombs and confirmed that one person had been shot.
The Israeli army says most of the dead Palestinians are militants.