Ben-Gvir at al-Aqsa Mosque. Palestinians and opposition: a 'provocation'
The extreme right-wing leader and Israeli Minister of Security visited the area, surrounded by a large contingent of agents. Former Prime Minister Lapid condemns the move, which is bound to trigger further violence. For the Palestinian government it is an 'unprecedented provocation'. Jewish settlers supported by police occupy land belonging to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - A "provocation" condemned by the Palestinians and criticised by former Prime Minister Yair Lapid. Widely announced, Itamar Ben-Gvir's first "visit" and related walk as Security Minister in the compound that houses the al-Aqsa Mosque, just days after the new Israeli government, the most right-wing government ever in the country's history, took office.
The Palestinian leadership say the move could trigger a further spiral of violence at the end of a year, 2022, with the highest number of casualties since the end of the Second Intifada.
The Ynet website posted pictures of Ben-Gvir as he was making a site visit, surrounded by a large contingent of security men. The area is the third most important place of worship in Islam after Mecca and Medina, as well as a sacred area for Judaism where - according to tradition - the Temple Mount is located.
Israeli opposition leader and former prime minister Lapid narrowly commented on the visit, stressing that it is bound to trigger further violence. Only Muslim worship is allowed in the area and, so far, there are no indications that Ben-Gvir prayed during the visit.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry "strongly condemned the assault" on the al-Aqsa Mosque, a gesture it considers an "unprecedented provocation and a dangerous escalation of the conflict".
Last week, another front of confrontation had taken place with Christians, following the seizure at the hands of Jewish settlers - supported by police forces - of a plot of land owned by the Greek Orthodox Church in East Jerusalem.
On 27 December, residents and witnesses reported an assault on a 5,000 square metre property in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan, south of the Old City, in the early hours of the morning.
The settlers fenced off the area and installed surveillance cameras, under the eyes of the police protecting them from attacks or protests. There was an immediate reaction from the residents, who rushed to the scene to try to stop the confiscation of the land but, in response, were violently assaulted by settlers and policemen, who arrested three young Palestinians.
"They hit everyone, men, women and children" without distinction, accuses a source relayed by the Wadi Hilweh Information Centre.
The land is owned by the Greek Orthodox Monastery of Silwan, which is part of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.