Netanyahu imposes restrictions on Muslim worshippers to Temple Mount during Ramadan

On Ben-Gvir's advice, PM restricts Israeli citizens' access to holy Jerusalem site; criteria for restrictions, including for West Bank residents, still undefined

Moran Azulay, Yuval Karni|
On National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir's advice, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has imposed restrictions on the number of Arabs with Israeli citizenship who will be allowed to visit Temple Mount during the holy month of Ramadan.
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An Israeli official responded to said limitation by saying “Ramadan can lead to an explosion. What Ben-Gvir wants is insane, and could significantly impact the situation in the West Bank. We’re dealing with a Prime Minister who doesn’t understand the magnitude of what’s going on.“
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לילת אל קאדר בהר הבית
לילת אל קאדר בהר הבית
Temple Mount
(Photo: AP)
An official close to Prime Minister Netanyahu disputed the criticism, saying “he did not surrender to Ben-Gvir. The prime minister has simply asked to act responsibly.”
Minister Benny Gantz has referred to the decision by saying “Israel’s stance throughout the years, as well as this year, is to enable freedom of worship during Ramadan, and to enable visiting Temple Mount. During these sensitive times, some limitations will have to be implemented, but they stem from our intentions to look out for the well-being of all those involved.”
Israel police have suggested limiting the entrance of Arabs from the age of 50 and up, while security officials warned any restrictions, regardless of age, would be a mistake.
Ramadan is set to take place between March 10 and April 9, during which there will be four separate Fridays when visiting Temple Mount will be enabled.
During the discussion, Ben-Gvir insisted on allowing police to breach Temple Mount grounds, using massive force in case the Palestinian flag or the banner of Hamas or any other terrorist organization is displayed. However, his demand was rejected.
Knesset Member Waleed Alhwashia of the Islamist Ra'am Party blasted the decision, saying “Netanyahu has once again surrendered to Ben-Gvir with another dangerous and racist decision that could further fan the flames of violence. Ben-Gvir is a provocateur who wishes to engulf Jerusalem in violence. Instead of putting him in his place and maintaining the freedom of worship of all Muslim citizens during the holy month of Ramadan, Netanyahu has decided to enable him.
"I call upon all responsible factors within the government, including Gallant, Gantz and Eizenkot, to do all they must in order to cancel this disastrous decision that could have perilous consequences for all of us.”
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Netanyahu and Ben-Gvir - A dangerous decision?
Netanyahu and Ben-Gvir - A dangerous decision?
Netanyahu and Ben-Gvir - A dangerous decision?
(Photo: Reuters/Amir Cohen/Pool)
Labor MK Gilad Kariv said, “by courting favors of those affiliated with Kahane, Netanyahu endangers the safety of Israeli citizens by once again placing political interests above the recommendations of Israeli security officials. After four months, in which the intertwined fabric of life of both Jews and Arabs was tested, Netanyahu has decided to award those who escalate and divide us, just as he did throughout all of his different terms when it comes to Hamas. Once again, he has proven that he is good for the extremists, but a disaster for the moderates.”
With Hamas labeling the events of October 7 the "Al-Aqsa storm", dealing with the issue of who is and is not allowed to visit Temple Mount during Ramadan, has become a rather explosive issue this year. Since the onset of the war, Hamas has done everything it can to inflame the West Bank and vicariously, all Arab citizens of the State of Israel.
Ramadan prayers last year

While Arab-Israelis have refrained from making waves since the war began, security officials have expressed their concern Hamas would be able to radicalize them during the upcoming Ramadan, which is why they believe the intelligent course of action would be to isolate the Gaza Strip, thus making sure violence does not erupt in other locations throughout the country.
Meanwhile, Israeli officials are also mindful of the Arab world at large and how a decision to limit the amount of Arabs and Muslims capable of visiting Temple Mount would play out geopolitically.
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