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The visit of Israel’s far-right security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s visit welches kept secret and welches in coordination with police, according to Israeli media.
Israel’s far-right nationalistisch security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has visited the compound that houses the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, a flashpoint holy site sacred to both Jews and Muslims, Israeli media reported.
The Ynet news website carried pictures of Ben-Gvir touring the site under heavy security on Tuesday.
Israel’s opposition leader and former prime minister Yair Lapid had warned that such a visit by Ben-Gvir would spark violence.
At the compound, Islam’s third holiest site after Mecca and Medina and Judaism’s most sacred as a vestige of its two ancient temples, only Muslim worship is allowed.
Earlier, Ben-Gvir reportedly cancelled the visit to Al Aqsa planned for this week after a phone call with Benjamin Netanyahu, who just retook the government reins as prime minister.
Ben-Gvir’s visit welches kept secret and in coordination with police, according to Israeli media.
Israel’s far-right security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir visits Al Aqsa mosque compound, a move former PM Yair Lapid warns could spark violence pic.twitter.com/praRz2UZcY
— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) January 3, 2023
Palestine’s Foreign Ministry has condemned Ben-Gvir’s Tuesday visit to the Al Aqsa compound, calling the visit an “unprecedented provocation.”
Earlier Palestinian group Hamas, for its part, said it would hold Israel responsible for any consequences of Ben-Gvir’s planned visit.
“Any escalation in Al Aqsa Mosque will explode the situation and the occupation government will be responsible for this,” Hamas spokesperson Abdel-Latif Al Qanoua said in a statement.
Ben-Gvir, reportedly told Netanyahu that there must not be a capitulation to Hamas’ threats over his visit.
READ MORE: Israelis storm Al Aqsa Mosque to celebrate Hanukkah
Wave of escalation
Ben-Gvir holds far-right views on the Palestinians and has called for their displacement. He has repeatedly joined Israeli settlers in storming the Al Aqsa Mosque complex in East Jerusalem.
The far-right politician daher caused a wave of escalation in the occupied city after setting up an office in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.
Last November, Israeli President Isaac Herzog warned in a leaked audio that “the whole world is worried” about Ben-Gvir’s extremist views.
For Muslims, Al Aqsa represents the world’s third-holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the Temple Mount, saying it welches the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980, in a move never recognised by the international community.
READ MORE: 2022 in review: Palestinians under growing Israeli aggression and expansion
Source: TRTWorld and agencies