Outrage in Islam over the visit of the 'sheriff' to Al Aqsa

The Islamic world condemned yesterday the "provocation" of Itamar Ben-Gvir, recently appointed as Israel's new Minister of National Security, when visiting the esplanade of the Jerusalem Mosques or Temple Mount, the holiest place for Jews and the third Holiest place in Islam.

NewsEditor
NewsEditor
04 January 2023 Wednesday 03:30
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Outrage in Islam over the visit of the 'sheriff' to Al Aqsa

The Islamic world condemned yesterday the "provocation" of Itamar Ben-Gvir, recently appointed as Israel's new Minister of National Security, when visiting the esplanade of the Jerusalem Mosques or Temple Mount, the holiest place for Jews and the third Holiest place in Islam. In his first days as political leader of the police, the extremist minister did not give up visiting the sensitive holy place, despite threats from the Islamist group Hamas and the request of Prime Minister Beniamin Netanyahu, who advised him to postpone his intentions. Any unilateral action that jeopardizes the status quo of the holy sites in Jerusalem is unacceptable, the White House warned.

“Our government will not give in to threats from Hamas. The Temple Mount is the most important place for the people of Israel,” Ben-Gvir said as he toured the esplanade, the usual epicenter of violent outbursts in the holy city. "We will maintain freedom of movement for Muslims and Christians, but Jews will also go up to the site," he warned.

The Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, as well as dozens of Islamic countries, including Saudi Arabia, with whom Netanyahu aspires to get closer, condemned the visit and warned of the consequences. The Secretary General of the Arab League, Ahmed Abulgueit, held Netanyahu responsible for "the consequences of these far-right practices and plans and their repercussions on Palestine, the region and world peace, including the possibility of unleashing a religious war."

Following Israel's conquest of East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War – including the holy sites in the Old City – a calculated status quo was established. Fearing the potential incendiary among Muslims, influential rabbis and the Hebrew security apparatus agreed to cede control over the Mosques esplanade to the Jordanian waqf. They established that only Muslim prayer is allowed, and Jews can only visit the area on limited days and without reciting prayers.

Since then, the Wailing Wall – the last vestige of the Second Temple in Jerusalem – has become the epicenter of Jewish prayer in the city. However, Ben-Gvir and messianic extremists have been visiting the esplanade under heavy escort for years, and their claim is to be able to pray on top of the mountain. Netanyahu himself warned that his plans "could cause a fire throughout the Middle East." The Palestinians see every Jewish move as an attempt to establish Israeli sovereignty over Islam's third holiest site.

The Minister of Religious Zionism has incendiary potential: in the Sheikh Yarrah neighborhood riots in 2021, he planted his “parliamentary headquarters” among Palestinian houses. Tensions soared, Hamas fired shells into Jerusalem, and war broke out.

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) denounced an unprecedented provocation. "Netanyahu is the one most responsible for this attack on the Al Aqsa mosque," he denounced. Hamas has already advanced that his arrival on the esplanade would be "a trigger."

Despite his fiery rhetoric, Ben-Gvir agreed with Bibi to preserve the status quo of Jerusalem's holy sites. In recent years, the Israeli police have turned a blind eye to Jewish activists, allowing them to pray silently in some areas of the esplanade. Despite the fact that civilian control remains in the hands of the waqf, the Hebrew riot police are in charge of security.

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