Israeli ultranationalist minister visits Jerusalem holy web site

JERUSALEM — An ultranationalist Israeli Cupboard minister on Tuesday visited a flashpoint Jerusalem holy web site for the primary time since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new far-right authorities took workplace final week. The go to drew fierce condemnation from throughout the Muslim world and a powerful rebuke from the USA.

The go to fueled fears of unrest as Palestinian militant teams threatened to behave in response. On Tuesday night, the Israeli navy mentioned Gaza militants tried to fireplace a rocket into southern Israel however the projectile fell quick and hit within the Hamas-controlled territory.

Netanyahu tried to minimize the incident, saying it was according to longstanding understandings on the disputed holy web site. However the go to by Nationwide Safety Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir unnerved each enemies and allies which have expressed robust misgivings concerning the far-right make-up of the brand new authorities.

Ben-Gvir, a West Financial institution settler chief who attracts inspiration from a racist rabbi, entered the positioning recognized to Jews because the Temple Mount and to Muslims because the Noble Sanctuary flanked by a big contingent of law enforcement officials. His plans to go to, introduced earlier within the week, had drawn threats from Gaza’s Hamas militant group.

“The Israeli authorities gained’t give up to a murderous group, to a vile terrorist group,” Ben-Gvir, recognized for his anti-Arab rhetoric and provocative stunts, mentioned in a video clip taken in the course of the go to.

Describing the Temple Mount as “a very powerful place for the Jewish folks,” he decried what he known as “racist discrimination” in opposition to Jewish visits to the positioning. With the Dome of the Rock within the background and waving his fingers on the digital camera, he mentioned the visits would proceed.

The positioning is the holiest web site in Judaism, house to the traditional biblical Temples. At this time, it homes the Al Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest web site in Islam. Since Israel captured the positioning in 1967, Jews have been allowed to go to however not pray there.

Ben-Gvir has lengthy known as for higher Jewish access to the holy site. Palestinians contemplate the mosque a nationwide image and examine such visits as provocative and as a possible precursor to Israel seizing management over the compound. Most rabbis forbid Jews from praying on the positioning, however there was a rising motion in recent times of Jews who help worship there.

Though Tuesday’s go to handed with out incident, U.S. Ambassador Tom Nides mentioned he “has been very clear in conversations with the Israeli authorities on the problem of preserving the established order in Jerusalem’s holy websites. Actions that forestall which can be unacceptable.”

The United Arab Emirates, which established full diplomatic ties with Israel in 2020, “strongly condemned the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard by an Israeli minister underneath the safety of Israeli forces.” It known as on Israel to “halt severe and provocative violations happening there.”

Bahrain, which additionally acknowledged Israel on the similar time, didn’t instantly acknowledge the incident.

Saudi Arabia, a robust Arab nation with which Netanyahu hopes to determine comparable ties, condemned the Israeli minister’s motion, as did statements from Kuwait and Qatar. Not one of the three nations have official diplomatic ties with Israel.

Turkey, which solely lately re-established full diplomatic ties with Israel, condemned what it mentioned was “the provocative motion” by Ben-Gvir. It urged Israel “to behave responsibly,” saying such visits may “trigger an escalation within the area.”

Israel’s neighbor Jordan, which acts as custodian of the contested shrine, condemned Ben-Gvir’s go to “within the strongest phrases” and summoned Israel’s ambassador to lodge a protest.

Egypt, one other key Arab ally of Israel’s, warned in opposition to “detrimental repercussions of such measures on safety and stability within the occupied territories and the area, and on the way forward for the peace course of.”

Tensions on the disputed compound have fueled previous rounds of violence. A go to by then-opposition chief Ariel Sharon in September 2000 helped spark clashes that grew to become the second Palestinian rebellion. Clashes between Israeli safety forces and Palestinian demonstrators in and across the web site fueled an 11-day battle with Hamas in 2021.

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem mentioned Ben-Gvir’s go to was “a continuation of the Zionist’s occupation aggression on our sacred locations and battle on our Arab identification.”

“Our Palestinian folks will proceed defending their holy locations and Al Aqsa Mosque,” he mentioned.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah group, which fought Israel in a monthlong battle in 2006, mentioned the go to threatened to “blow up the area.”

Responding to the outcry, Netanyahu late Tuesday mentioned Israel stays dedicated to “strictly sustaining the established order” on the web site. “The declare {that a} change has been made in the established order is with out basis.”

Netanyahu returned to workplace final week for his sixth time period as prime minister, main probably the most spiritual, right-wing authorities within the nation’s historical past. Its objectives embody increasing West Financial institution settlements and annexing the occupied territory.

Israel captured the Previous Metropolis of Jerusalem, with its holy websites to a few monotheistic faiths, together with the remainder of east Jerusalem, the West Financial institution and the Gaza Strip within the 1967 Mideast battle. The Palestinians search these territories for a future unbiased state, with east Jerusalem as capital. Israel annexed east Jerusalem in a transfer unrecognized by many of the worldwide neighborhood and considers town its undivided, everlasting capital.

The competing claims to the positioning lie on the coronary heart of the Israeli-Palestinian battle.

Ben-Gvir is head of the ultranationalist spiritual Jewish Energy faction and has a historical past of inflammatory remarks and actions in opposition to Palestinians. He was as soon as convicted of incitement and supporting a Jewish terrorist group, however in his new job now instructions Israel’s police power.

A day earlier, opposition chief Yair Lapid, who till final week was Israel’s prime minister, warned that Ben-Gvir’s supposed go to would “result in violence that can endanger human lives and price human lives.”

His go to got here following months of mounting tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.

Early on Tuesday, Palestinian officers mentioned a 15-year-old boy was killed by Israeli military hearth close to the occupied West Financial institution metropolis of Bethlehem. The Israeli navy mentioned its forces had shot at folks throwing firebombs towards troops.

On Monday, the Israeli rights group B’Tselem mentioned 2022 was the deadliest yr for Palestinians since 2004, a interval of intense violence that got here throughout a Palestinian rebellion. It mentioned almost 150 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli hearth within the West Financial institution and east Jerusalem.

The Israeli navy has been conducting near-daily raids into Palestinian cities and cities since a spate of Palestinian assaults in opposition to Israelis killed 19 final spring. A recent wave of assaults killed no less than one other 9 Israelis within the fall.

The Israeli military says many of the Palestinians killed have been militants. However stone-throwing youths protesting the incursions and others not concerned in confrontations have additionally been killed.


Related Press writers Jon Gambrell in Rome, Bassem Mroue in Beirut and Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this report.

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