Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed to prohibit Jewish visitors and tourists from entering the Al-Aqsa complex in East Jerusalem until the end of the holy month of Ramadan, according to a statement from the Israeli government.
The decision came after a meeting that included Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir to conduct a "comprehensive assessment" of the security situation with security officials.
In addition, the statement claimed that the decision was taken based on the "unanimous recommendation" of the defense minister, the IDF Chief-of-Staff, the Director of the ISA, and the Israel Police Inspector General.
Netanyahu also praised the Israel Police for their actions at the “Temple Mount” and the Western Wall during Passover and the security forces for their countless counter-terrorism operations and measures that saved many lives.
Additionally, the conferees directed that all required operational troops be deployed to protect worshipers traveling to the Western Wall and its routes.
The Israeli minister decided on Tuesday, 11 April, ten days before the end of Ramadan. The government made the same choice, banning Jewish visitors in the Al-Aqsa complex during Ramadan's last ten days, in previous years, too, Reuters noted.
In the same context, far-right National Security Minister Ben-Gvir didn’t agree with Netanyahu's decision to restrict the Temple Mount to Jewish pilgrims and described it as "a serious mistake that will not bring peace, but may only escalate the situation."
Moreover, he claimed that the absence of Jews on the Temple Mount "will automatically lead to the dilution of the police force stationed on the Mount, which will create a fertile ground for huge demonstrations of incitement to murder Jews," Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.
“When terrorism strikes us – we must strike back with tremendous force, not surrender to it and its whims.”
However, defense Minister Yoav Gallant confirmed the consensus of all security officials not to allow Jews to visit the Temple Mount starting from Wednesday, according to an official statement.
The decision was made just hours after Hamas, the largest armed Palestinian faction in the Gaza Strip, encouraged Palestinians to go to the Al-Aqsa Mosque for the general mobilization of prayer and stay there to defend it, especially with the settler groups announcing their intention to continue storming the mosque during the last ten days of Ramadan, according to the statement.
Furthermore, Hamas warned the Israeli government "against any foolish act against Al-Aqsa, the safe worshipers, and our people in occupied Jerusalem," stressing that violating Al-Aqsa threatens peace and security in the region and an assault on the faith of all Muslims.
Tensions increased in the city of Jerusalem last week after the Israeli forces attacked the worshipers and seclusion in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and pictures and videos spread of the extent of the destruction and arrests, which sparked widespread Arab and Islamic anger.
As a result, violent confrontations erupted in the forty-eight territories between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and rocket barrages were fired from the Gaza Strip.
Later, the missile attacks on Israel extended to include Lebanon and Syria, while Israel responded to these attacks in a limited way, which was considered an Israeli signal of unwillingness to go to war.
The rocket attack from southern Lebanon has worried the Israeli government, and some described it as the largest attack since the 2006 war. Israel has claimed that Hamas is responsible for firing rockets from Lebanese territory, which some see as an attempt to neutralize Hezbollah from the conflict, as the battle against Hezbollah involves complex calculations.
In addition to the rocket attacks and internal clashes, attackers armed with Kalashnikov rifles killed two Israelis and seriously wounded a third in the Jordan Valley in the northeastern West Bank.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa is the third holiest location in the world. Jews, for their side, refer to the region as the Temple Mount, claiming it was the location of two ancient Jewish temples.
The tension in Jerusalem is not a new matter in terms of causes and ideological clashes. However, the new issue this time was the ferocity of the internal clashes with the Palestinians of the 48's and the involvement of Lebanon and Syria in this way.
Moreover, Israel's regional position has shifted after the Iranian-Saudi rapprochement and the subsequent resolution of issues between them on a regional scale. Additionally, the absence of an agreement between Netanyahu and the Biden administration, currently placing heavy emphasis on the Ukrainian file, has further complicated the situation.
Therefore, these issues compounded the problem of internal division in Israel, leading to a sense of uncertainty and confusion within the Netanyahu government in recent days. Consequently, Israel chose not to risk a war that could have escalated throughout the region.
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