Israeli minister visits Al-Aqsa Mosque for first time since Gaza conflict

Jerusalem:  Israel’s Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir visited the holy site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem on Wednesday, as reported by Israel’s state-owned Kan TV news.

This is Ben-Gvir’s first visit to the flashpoint site, known to Jews as Temple Mount, since the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas broke out in the Gaza Strip on Oct. 7, 2023.

“The Temple Mount is the holiest place for the people of Israel and belongs only to Israel,” Ben-Gvir, also the leader of the far-right Jewish Power party, declared at the compound.

He also blamed Norway, Ireland, and Spain for recognising a Palestinian state, saying they are “rewarding the murderers and abusers of Hamas.”

The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound holds sacred significance for both Muslims and Jews and has long been a flashpoint for deadly violence between the two sides.

Under the status quo, non-Muslim worshippers may visit the site in the heart of the Old City but are not allowed to pray there. Ben-Gvir’s past visits to the compound drew sharp reactions from the Palestinians, the Israeli opposition, and other countries.


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