JERUSALEM : Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday decided to halt Israeli settler intrusions into Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in occupied East Jerusalem until the end of the month of Ramadan.
Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, is expected to end later this month.
A statement by Netanyahu’s office said the decision was made following a “comprehensive assessment” on the security situation across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which was attended by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir along with the heads of the security services.
The decision stated that Jewish visitors and tourists are prohibited “from going up to the Temple Mount [Al-Aqsa Mosque complex] until the end of Ramadan.”
Ben-Gvir, for his part, described the decision as a “serious mistake that will not bring peace, rather risks escalating the security situation further.”
On Tuesday, nearly 800 Israeli settlers forced their way into the flashpoint site under heavy protection from the Israeli forces, to mark Jewish Passover holiday.
Tension escalated across the Palestinian territories after Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in East Jerusalem and forcibly removed worshipers last week.
The Israeli raids on the mosque triggered rocket fire from the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, with Israel retaliating with air and artillery shelling.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third-holiest site. Jews, for their part, call the area the Temple Mount, saying it was the site of two ancient Jewish temples.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community. — AA