The Israeli authorities will be closing Al-Aqsa Mosque and its compound in occupied East Jerusalem to Jews and other non-Muslims from Friday until the end of Ramadan. According to the Times of Israel, the plan was leaked to Israeli media outlets yesterday evening, sparking an immediate outcry from right-wing parliamentarians, who condemned the government for “caving in to terror”.
Far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir, reacted to the closure on Twitter. “If the news of the Temple Mount closure is true,” he wrote, “[Prime Minister Naftali] Bennett raised a white flag tonight. He surrendered to terrorism, surrendered to Hamas, surrendered to the enemies.”
The extremist Knesset Member (MK) made his comment despite the fact that the Noble Sanctuary was closed during Ramadan under former right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The apparent security measure comes after days of Al-Aqsa Mosque being stormed by Israeli occupation forces who attacked Palestinian worshippers. At least 152 Palestinians were wounded last Friday when Israeli troops entered the mosque and fired at Palestinians inside.
Neither the police nor the Prime Minister’s Office have issued a statement confirming the closure to non-Muslims. However, Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej voiced his support for the move. “It is a decision by a government that seeks to calm tensions and not play into the hands of the provocateurs who are trying to turn the holy places into a match that ignites a fire,” he said.
Al-Aqsa Mosque is the world’s third holiest site for Muslims. Jews call the sanctuary the “Temple Mount”, and say that it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.