Far-right Israeli Lawmaker Visits Temple Mount Amid Tensions

Itamar Ben-Gvir, a prominent Kahanist and central figure in Sheikh Jarrah tensions, has previously been banned from visiting the Temple Mount out of fear of incitement

Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner
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Far-right MK Itamar Ben-Gvir at the Temple Mount on Thursday.
Far-right MK Itamar Ben-Gvir at the Temple Mount on Thursday.
Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner

Far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir visited the Temple Mount on Thursday morning and toured the site for about fifteen minutes, against the backdrop of a wave of terror attacks across Israel days before the start of Ramadan.

"My tour here conveys a very simple message," Ben-Gvir said during the tour. "I do not fold and the State of Israel must not fold before these terrorists who are trying to murder us all."

Ben-Gvir is a prominent Kahanist figure who notably set up a makeshift office in the contested neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah last May, following clashes over Israeli plans to evict Palestinians from their homes. The move caused increased tension in the neighborhood, and Ben-Gvir only shut down the office following a personal request from then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Ben-Gvir was banned by police in June from visiting the Temple Mount, on account that it was liable to incite riots.

The decision to allow Ben-Gvir to visit the Temple Mount on Thursday was made following an assessment of the current security situation by the Jerusalem District commander, Doron Turgeman. Another situation assessment is expected to take place in the morning.

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The Joint List came out against the police approval and warned of the consequences. A statement issued by the List said that "the main issue in Jerusalem is the police, no less than the convicted pyromaniac Ben-Gvir."

According to the statement, "The Israeli government is responsible for any escalation caused by the provocations of Ben-Gvir dancing on blood. He and the police ignited the confrontation last May, and apparently, they're addicted to such escalations which will affect everyone."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's office called the visit "Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people and holy places" in a statement issued Thursday.

Police have begun preparations for increased tensions as the month of Ramadan begins this week, coinciding with other national and religious holidays including Passover.

In recent days, 17 East Jerusalem residents have been placed in administrative detention. According to police, some were identified for inciting attacks or having links to Islamic State ideology. The police also summoned several dozen Palestinian residents of Jerusalem for questioning on suspicion of incitement. Some were expelled from the city.

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