'Thanks to Ben-Gvir for uniting all Muslims': Tensions rise over decision to limit Muslim prayer on Temple Mount during Ramadan

Defense establishment is voicing concern that the decision will ignite violence on the ground, and also hurt relations with Qatar and Egypt, the countries trying to arrange a hostage deal with Hamas

Liran Tamari|
The countdown to the Muslim holy month Ramadan is underway, and disgruntled voices in Arab society are already being heard after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to agree to National Security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir's demand to place limits on the number of Muslim worshippers who will be permitted to ascend to the Temple Mount, where the Al-Aqsa Mosque is located, the third most holy site for Muslims worldwide. The site is the holiest in the world for Jews.
"Thanks to Ben-Gvir for uniting all Muslims," an East Jerusalem resident sarcastically told Ynet.
<< Follow Ynetnews on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | TikTok >>
Read more:
HaGai street in the Old City of Jerusalem is one of the main corridors leading to the entrance of Temple Mount, and one that many traders traverse on a daily basis. This year, they are themselves on high alert, saying this limitation by Netanyahu "will not go smoothly." Massoud, a local resident, said: "This is the holy month of Ramadan for Muslim worshippers. It's one month out of the year. Why can't they get to Al-Aqsa Mosque? Why do Christians get a pass but Muslims don't? This is a bad decision."
2 View gallery
מהומות בהר הבית
מהומות בהר הבית
Matters could flare up inside Temple Mount
(Photo: REUTERS/Ammar Awad)
Another local, Najib, says this decision will bring together Muslims around the world. "Everyone knows what Ben-Gvir is doing to this government," he said. "The whole country will be a mess. We can work together to get things straightened out gradually, but this decision is too much."
Taysir, a trader who works in the area, said that "Ben-Gvir is not the kind of person we need to be talking about. I work in a church with Christians and Jews. We want peace. We live together. Trying to force things through will not work."
Israeli Police have voiced confidence in front of the National Security Committee, saying they will be able to follow through on the government's directives and swiftly crack down on anyone trying to cause havoc or anarchy. "Ramadan has a religious aspect that Hamas is attempting to capitalize on. We won't play along. We have secured an axis through which law-abiding citizens would be able to worship during Ramadan. We will keep things running smoothly and quietly," according to the police.
Netanyahu's decision, brought about by immense pressure from within his coalition, and Ben-Gvir specifically, puts this decision in judicial crosshairs, made worse by the fact that the defense establishment at large did not support such a move. In fact, they've been clear about how a decision like this will anger Muslims and damage Israeli relations overseas.
2 View gallery
עשרות אלפי מאמינים במסגד אל-אקצא, הלילה ה-27 בחודש הרמדאן
עשרות אלפי מאמינים במסגד אל-אקצא, הלילה ה-27 בחודש הרמדאן
Temple Mount during Ramadan last year
In the spring of 2021, during operation Guardian of the Walls, Israel experienced violent demonstrations of an unprecedented scope, where "mixed" cities like Acre and Lod saw massive confrontations between Jews and Muslims. Security officials spoke of how this could compromise an already strained relationship with moderate Muslims nations such as Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan, some of which are trying to arrange another deal that will bring back Israeli hostages.
Not all details have been finalized regarding the limitations. There is still the issue of age cut offs and the number of Muslim worshippers allowed to pray at any one time, but many are suggesting the best course of action, from a long-term perspective, is to remove these limitations entirely.
The commenter agrees to the privacy policy of Ynet News and agrees not to submit comments that violate the terms of use, including incitement, libel and expressions that exceed the accepted norms of freedom of speech.