Israel’s far-right national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, has entered the compound that houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem,
in a move that threatens a backlash from Palestinians who have labelled the act an “unprecedented provocation”. Ben-Gvir was seen at the site on Tuesday under heavy security.
“Our government will not surrender to the threats of Hamas,” Ben-Gvir said in a statement published by his spokesman
after the Palestinian group that governs the besieged Gaza Strip warned that such a move would cross a “red line”.
Ben-Gvir has long called for greater Jewish access to the holy site, which is viewed by Palestinians as provocative and as a potential precursor to Israel taking complete control over the compound.
Ben-Gvir wrote on Twitter after his visit that the site “is open to all and if Hamas thinks that if it threatens me it will deter me, they should understand that times have changed”.
Ofir Gendelman, who has long served as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Arabic-language spokesman,
released a video saying that the “situation is completely calm” at the holy site following Ben-Gvir’s departure.