Israel’s Internal Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir visited a sensitive Al-Quds holy site on Sunday at a time of heightened tensions with the Palestinians.
The spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Ben-Gvir’s “incursion at an early hour, like thieves, into the Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyards will not change the reality and will not impose Israeli sovereignty over it.”
A Hamas spokesman said Israel would bear the consequences for Ben-Gvir’s “ savage assault” on the mosque and it called on Palestinians to step up their visits and “stand as a rampart in the face of all attempts to defile it and make it Jewish,” Reuters reported.
Jordan’s Foreign Ministry called it “a provocative step that is condemned, and a dangerous and unacceptable escalation.”
Neighboring Egypt, which has a peace treaty with Israel, also issued a condemnation.
The far-right minister said during his visit, “I’m happy to ascend the Temple Mount, the most important place for the people of Israel”.
The comments, during an early morning visit to the mosque, came days after groups of young settlers scuffled with Palestinians and chanted racist slogans during a march through the Old City.
Israel captured the Old City of Al-Quds, which includes Al-Aqsa and the adjacent Western Wall, during the 1967 Middle Eastern war.
Israel has since annexed East Al-Quds, in a move not recognized by the international community, and regards the entire city as its eternal and undivided capital. Palestinians want East Al-Quds as the capital of a future state.
In 2021, tensions around Al-Aqsa contributed to setting off a 10-day war with the Hamas movement. The movement has warned repeatedly that it would react to the incursions on the site.