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Condemnations pour in after Ben-Gvir claims Israel ‘in charge’ during al-Aqsa raid

Israel’s hawkish minister Itamar Ben-Gvir (4th right) is seen at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, occupied Palestine, May 21, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

Hawkish Israeli minister Itamar Ben-Gvir entered the holy site of al-Aqsa Mosque through the Moroccan Gate on Sunday. The provocative move has generated condemnations from across the Arab and Muslim world.

Escorted by the regime's troops, the minister claimed Israel's ownership of the compound in a video message from the courtyard. "We're in charge here," Ben-Gvir said.

From the League of Arab Nations, Assistant Secretary-General Saeed Abu Ali said, “Storming al-Aqsa Mosque by Ben-Gvir for the second time is a condemnable act and it represents a dangerous escalation that pushes towards fomenting violence and tension and igniting the entire region.”

He called on the international community to intervene to end Israel’s aggression against the Palestinians.

Ahmad Majdalani, the Palestinian minister of social development, said the move was “a provocative expression by the Israeli regime as a whole, not just an individual expression by Ben-Gvir.”

“It is official policy to harm the feelings of Muslims worldwide, particularly Palestinians. We warn that if this continues, then it changes the situation from a political conflict to a religious one that cannot be controlled. The danger of this to the region cannot be overestimated.”

In the besieged Gaza Strip, the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas said Israel would “bear responsibility for the barbaric incursions of its ministers and herds of settlers.” The move, Hamas said, “confirms the depths of danger looming over al-Aqsa, under this Zionist fascist regime and the arrogance of its ministers from the extreme right.”

In Ankara, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement.

“We strongly condemn the storming of Al-Haram Al-Sharif on 21 May by the Israeli Minister of National Security under the protection of Israeli security forces in clear breach of the international law.”

Jordan’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Sinan Majali said, “The storming of al-Aqsa mosque and the violation of its sanctity by an Israeli cabinet minister are condemned and provocative acts.”

“They represent a blatant violation of international law, as well as the historical and legal status quo in al-Quds and its holy sites.”

In Cairo, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Israel was after a de-facto division of the Islamic holy site. The ministry said such behavior would not, however, alter the legal and historical status quo of the holy Islamic site.

The Egyptian statement called on Israeli authorities to refrain from escalation, which could inflame an already tense situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Al-Aqsa Mosque is an Islamic site where unsolicited visits, prayers and rituals by non-Muslims are forbidden, according to decades-long international agreements.

Israeli legislators and settlers make regular provocative entries into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, and houses both the Dome of the Rock and the Mosque.

The regime enables the Jewish visitation of al-Aqsa despite the fact that an agreement signed between Israel and the Jordanian government in the wake of Israel’s occupation of East al-Quds in 1967 prohibits non-Muslim worship at the compound.

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