Following deadly conflicts at the sensitive site, the Israeli government will close Al-Aqsa Mosque to Jewish groups until the end of Ramadan, succumbing to local, regional, and worldwide pressure.
According to the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, the government has planned to block Al-courtyards Aqsa’s to Jewish settlers from April 22 till the end of Ramadan on May 1, leaving only Muslim worshippers in the area.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Wednesday prevented far-right MP Itamar Ben Gvir from visiting Muslim neighborhoods of Jerusalem’s Old City and conducting a protest in an effort to prevent further violence.
With the Jewish Passover celebration coinciding with Ramadan, tensions in Israeli-controlled East Jerusalem have risen in recent weeks, following nearly a month of fatal violence in Israel and the occupied West Bank.
The prohibition is meant to prevent further unrest in the Old City, notably Al-Aqsa, where more than 170 Palestinians were injured in previous clashes with Israeli soldiers.
Ben Gvir had stated that he would march through Damascus Gate, the primary entrance to the Muslim district of Jerusalem’s Old City, at a protest on Wednesday evening.
Bennett agreed to security chiefs’ request that the outspoken MP not be allowed to enter Damascus Gate.
“I have no intention of letting petty politics put human lives in jeopardy.” “I will not allow Ben Gvir’s political provocation to put IDF (Israeli army) soldiers and Israeli police officers in danger, making their already difficult duty even more difficult,” Bennett added.
“The security of the coalition government is not the security of the country,” Ben-Gvir responded. Under the instruction of the left-wing minister of internal security, the police are attempting to ban Jews from carrying the Israeli flag in the ‘Israeli capital.’ Our response to our adversary will be to arrive today and proudly raise the Israeli flag.”
Bennett, a leading member in Israel’s settlement movement, is in charge of a shaky coalition.
The Islamic Awqaf had asked Israeli authorities to put a stop to visits by extreme Jewish groups from April 16 until Ramadan’s end, according to Sheikh Omar Al-Kiswani, director of Al-Aqsa Mosque, but the government had not responded.
This week, Jordan’s King Abdullah spearheaded a concerted effort to ensure freedom of prayer at Al-Aqsa, particularly during Ramadan, and to stop Israeli assault against worshippers.
On Wednesday, around 1,100 settlers stormed the mosque, triggering violent demonstrations and fights with Israeli police, who fired rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.
As the Jewish holiday came to a close, a big group of radical Jews gathered at Maghrabi Gate, attempting to enter the mosque, as seen in a video released by Israeli activists.
According to Hussein Al-Sheikh, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s executive committee, the historic status quo gives the Islamic Awqaf responsibility for the management, maintenance, restoration, and supervision of visitors to Al-courtyards. Aqsa’s
Controlling the police and controlling the quantity and ages of worshippers, he asserted, is a gross violation of the status quo and an attempt to partition Al-Aqsa between Jews and Muslims.
Despite conflicts with Israeli authorities, Israeli settlers have staged provocative flag marches in the Old City and stated plans to pass through Damascus Gate and neighboring districts.
Former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy severely denounced the Jewish right-wing groups partaking in the marches in an interview with Israeli Army Radio, saying that Jews should not be permitted to raid Al-Aqsa and labeling their acts as “conduct that breaches Jewish law.”
Allowing flag marches in the Old City, according to Halevy, may result in “bloodshed.”
“Prayer in the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque is an exclusive right for Muslims only,” Mahmoud Al-Habbash, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said. “Supervision of the mosque affairs is the sole responsibility of Islamic Awqaf, and the occupation and its authorities have no right to interfere with its affairs.”
In the midst of Israeli aggression, Al-Habbash urged the international world to abandon its double standards on Palestine, calling for an end to the “frenzied attacks” on the holy city.
He called Israeli actions against the Al-Aqsa Mosque and its followers “insolence,” an attack on Muslims’ religious freedom, and a clear breach of international law, including establishing the ages of people entitled to pray there.