No restrictions on Arab Israeli visits to Temple Mount during Ramadan, Netanyahu decides

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir demanded a limit on the number of Israeli Arabs who could pray on the Temple Mount on the holiday, but the PM accepted the position of the IDF and Shin Bet; Security source: 'Netanyahu finally said no to Ben-Gvir'

Itamar Eichner, Moran Azulay, Meir Turgeman|
Despite the insistence of National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday accepted the recommendations of the IDF and Shin Bet, and decided not to impose significant restrictions on Arab citizens of Israel during Ramadan prayers on the Temple Mount.
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During a meeting led by Netanyahu, which included representatives of all security agencies, it was decided that Arab Israeli worshippers would be allowed entry to the Temple Mount during the first week of Ramadan as they have in previous years. A weekly security and safety assessment will be conducted and decisions made accordingly.
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(Photo: Yair Sagi, AFP)
Ben-Gvir quickly responded to the decision, expressing his disagreement. He said that allowing access to the Temple Mount during Ramadan in line with previous years and against the position of the police and himself, indicates that Netanyahu and the cabinet are disregarding the events of October 7. Ben-Gvir said he believes that this decision puts the citizens of Israel at risk and may give Hamas an opportunity to claim victory.
During the discussion, security officials presented various threats and dangers. As it stands, approximately 50,000 to 60,000 Muslims will be permitted access to the Temple Mount during Ramadan, similar to previous years. After the first week of Ramadan, a renewed security assessment will take place to consider the possibility of increasing the number of worshippers at the site.
The chosen number allows the police to ensure the safety of worshippers from all religions coming to the area, including those visiting the Western Wall. However, Ben-Gvir disagrees with this decision and believes that the number of worshippers on the Temple Mount should be limited to a few thousand for security reasons. Police representatives acknowledged their ability to handle the determined number of worshippers but expressed a preference for a lower number to maintain safety on the Temple Mount.
Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai aligned himself with the position of the IDF and Shin Bet. Considering the potential for Iran and Hamas to ignite additional conflicts alongside the fighting in Gaza, Palestinians from the West Bank will be granted limited entry to the Temple Mount. The discussion concluded that entry for Palestinians will follow previous years' regulations, including age restrictions and verification by the Shin Bet.
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איתמר בן גביר בישיבת הסיעה
איתמר בן גביר בישיבת הסיעה
Unhappy, Ben-Gvir
(Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
Ben-Gvir and Netanyahu attempted to collaborate on a joint statement for reporters after the discussion, but they were unable to reach an agreement. Ben-Gvir, disappointed with the decision, criticized Netanyahu for repeatedly using the slogan "until absolute victory" during the war. In a post on the X social media platform, Ben-Gvir wrote: "Hamas celebrations on the Temple Mount = absolute victory."
During the discussion, the National Security MInister found himself isolated, with only the police supporting his position. All other participants sided with the positions of the Shin Bet, IDF and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. Shabtai suggested age restrictions during the discussion and said that only in such a scenario could the number of worshippers entering the Temple Mount be genuinely limited. A security official summarized the outcome, stating: "Netanyahu listened to reason and rejected Ben-Gvir's demands."
At the start of the discussion on preparations for Ramadan, Netanyahu emphasized Israel's commitment to preserving freedom of worship for all religions, including during Ramadan. He assured that appropriate security and safety measures would be in place to allow the Muslim public to celebrate the holiday while maintaining law and public order.
Knesset member Mansour Abbas commended the pPrime minister for the "responsible decision to allow freedom of worship for Muslim worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque." He urged the Arab public to exercise their right to prayers and the fulfillment of religious duties during the holy month while upholding law and public order.
In an internal warning document recently sent by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to the heads of the security system and exposed by Ynet, he explicitly warned against a security deterioration in the West Bank during Ramadan. The document addressed the need to take steps as part of the security system's preparedness for a possible escalation.
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Itamar Ben-Gvir on Temple Mount compound
Itamar Ben-Gvir on Temple Mount compound
Itamar Ben-Gvir on Temple Mount compound
(Photo: Courtesy)
The security operation will entail thousands of police officers and roadblocks that will be set up at the entrances to Jerusalem, all with meticulous inspections. Additionally, the Shin Bet and the police will operate around the clock to thwart any intention to carry out an attack, alongside efforts to prevent provocateurs from reaching the Temple Mount and attempting to inflame the atmosphere on-site, according to officials. At the same time, there will be a strong emphasis on monitoring social networks and countering fake news aimed at agitating young Muslims.
The police will also conduct a massive public and transportation operation to accommodate thousands of buses from across the country that will drop off Muslims at the entrances to the Temple Mount and then divert them onto the capital's roads to prevent massive traffic jams, ensuring that the worshippers reach the Temple Mount via the shortest and fastest route. The heightened preparedness for Ramadan will not only be limited to Jerusalem but will extend throughout the country, particularly in mixed cities, in order to address any breaches of order.
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