Israel’s new minister of national security and far-right figure Itamar Ben Gvir early Tuesday, January 3, despite threats from Palestinian Hamas, walked to the Esplanade of Mosques, a holy site at the heart of tensions in east Jerusalem. “Our government will not give in to Hamas’ threats,” Itamar Ben Gvir said after the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, described the minister’s intention to visit the Esplanade as “a prelude to an escalation in the region”. had.
The Esplanade, Islam’s third holiest site and Judaism’s holiest site, known as “Temple Mount,” is located in the Old City of Jerusalem, in the Israeli-occupied and annexed Palestinian sector. Under a historical status quo, non-Muslims can go there at certain times, but cannot pray there. In recent years, however, increasing numbers of Jews, often nationalists, have been praying there in secret, a gesture denounced as a “provocation” by the Palestinians.
Itamar Ben Gvir, who went there several times as an MP, had announced his intention to go there as a minister.
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