update deskIsrael at War

Ben-Gvir: Bar Palestinians from Temple Mount over Ramadan

“It can’t be that women and children remain captive in Gaza and we allow Hamas victory celebrations on the Temple Mount,” said the Israeli minister.

Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir (left) visits the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Jan. 3, 2022. Source: Facebook.
Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir (left) visits the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Jan. 3, 2022. Source: Facebook.

Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir on Saturday called for Palestinians in Judea and Samaria to be barred from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins on March 10.

“It is forbidden to allow residents from the Palestinian Authority to enter Israel in any way. We cannot take chances and risks,” Ben-Gvir wrote on X.

“It can’t be that women and children remain captive in Gaza and we allow Hamas victory celebrations on the Temple Mount,” he added.

Israel has in the past permitted Palestinians to visit the Temple Mount during Ramadan, and the security establishment supports maintaining this policy, according to a Channel 12 report Saturday.

According to the report, Ben-Gvir is at odds with police brass, over whom he has authority, who are pushing for Palestinians aged 60 and over to be allowed to pray at the Temple Mount during Ramadan.

Ben-Gvir is also pushing to bar Arab Israelis under the age of 70 from accessing the site, according to the report.

The Kan public broadcaster reported Saturday that police have proposed maintaining a presence on the Temple Mount to prevent Arabs from waving Hamas flags or inciting against Israel, while the Israel Security Agency opposes dispatching any such force.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is slated to hold a meeting with Ben-Gvir and then the War Cabinet on Sunday to discuss the matter further.

Ben-Gvir last visited the holy site publicly in July, in observance of Tisha B’Av, the annual fast day commemorating tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people, with a focus on the destruction of the First and Second Temples.

“This is the most important place for the people of Israel, where we have to go back and show our rule,” the Otzma Yehudit Party leader said at the time.

In May, Ben-Gvir said that despite Hamas threats, Israel remains sovereign of the holy site. “I’m happy to go up to the Temple Mount, the most important place for the people of Israel…. We are the owners of Jerusalem and the whole Land of Israel,” he said.

The national security minister caused an international firestorm when he visited Temple Mount in January 2023, shortly after the Netanyahu government was sworn into office.

The Biden administration denounced that visit as “unacceptable,” with a State Department spokesman affirming that “the United States stands firmly for preservation of the historic status quo with respect to the holy sites in Jerusalem. We oppose any unilateral actions that undercut the historic status quo.”

In response, Netanyahu backed Ben-Gvir, noting that, “Under the status quo, ministers have gone up to the Temple Mount in recent years, including [then-]Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan; therefore, the claim that a change has been made in the status quo is without foundation.”

He added: “We will not be dictated to by Hamas,” referring to threats of violence by the Gaza-based terror group, which had vowed to “ignite the region” if the national security minister visited Judaism’s holiest site.

Jordan has since 1967 been the custodian of holy sites in the Israeli capital, including the Al Aqsa Mosque that sits atop the Temple Mount.

Currently, Jews can only ascend the Mount during short windows of time, and are prohibited from worshiping so as to not upset Muslims, who regularly riot at the site.

During 2023, 50,098 Jews visited the Temple Mount, down from 51,483 in 2022, according to data compiled by Beyadenu, an Israeli NGO dedicated to strengthening the Jewish connection to the holy site.

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