As illegal settlers storm Al-Aqsa during Passover, Israel’s Ben-Gvir visits Jerusalem

RELIGIONS NEWS AGENCY (REDNA) – Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir made a provocative visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex on Thursday in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City to mark the Jewish holiday of Passover.

New Arab reported Ben-Gvir’s visit coincided with illegal settlers forcing their way into the mosque complex, a flashpoint amid ongoing hostilities.

Accompanied by his son, the far-right politician attended a Jewish prayer ceremony at the Western Wall, known in Hebrew as ‘Birkat Kohanim’.

The prayer ceremony on Thursday was led by Israeli chief rabbis and the rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinowitz.

The Passover celebration not only drew thousands of Israelis to the Western Wall, considered holy among both Jews and Muslims, but also attracted Jewish visitors to  the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, despite prayer there being solely reserved for Muslims.

On Thursday, at least 1,128 illegal Israeli settlers stormed the Al-Aqsa complex “in successive and provocative groups”, according to Jerusalem’s Islamic Endowments Authority.

The authority added that the settler incursion took place under “strict measures and restrictions on the entry of Muslim worshippers by the occupation police”.

According to the authority, Israeli police closed the Al-Mugharbah Gate, through which illegal settlers entered the site.

This comes amid increasing tensions in various parts of the Old City throughout the week-long Jewish celebration, which has seen hundreds of illegal Israeli settlers storm the holy site on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, Ben Gvir’s appearance on Thursday followed his reported attempts to allow Jewish prayers at the holy site, according to Israel’s public broadcaster Kan.

A group of far-right activists who attempted to sacrifice a goat at the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex flashpoint claimed that Ben-Gvir ensured their release following their arrests on Monday for violating a ban imposed by Israel’s Sephardi chief rabbi, Yitzhak Yosef.

According to Haaretz, activists from the radical group Returning to the Mountain reportedly thanked Ben-Gvir for his intervention.

Earlier this month, Rabbi Yosef issued a notice prohibiting Jewish worshippers from visiting the Al-Aqsa compound, declaring it “a severe breach of Jewish law”.

Ben-Gvir, the leader of the extremist Jewish Power party, has been an ardent supporter of the movement that regularly raids the Al-Aqsa complex.

Jewish Power is part of a loose movement of extremist groups within Israel who believe the compound is built on top of the ruins of the Temple of Solomon.

On Wednesday night, the security minister was faced with confrontations by Israeli protesters in West Jerusalem, including family members of hostages held in Gaza.

Although he supported the last hostage deal between Hamas and Israel, Ben-Gvir has repeatedly voiced opposition to any further agreements with the Palestinian movement.

His influence over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is believed to be a major impediment in negotiations.

what to read next
Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.