‘Israel will not give in to Hamas threats.’
Israel’s new government “will not give in to threats from Hamas,” National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said as he arrived at Har Habayit, the Temple Mount, on Tuesday morning, Jan. 3 for his planned pilgrimage to the Jerusalem holy site.
“The Temple Mount is the most important place for the Jewish people,” the minister said in a statement made following his visit to the religious site. “We [will] maintain freedom of movement for Muslims and Christians,” Ben-Gvir stressed, adding that “Jews will climb the mountain.”
“Those who make threats will be dealt with an iron fist,” the minister further warned. Ben-Gvir was wearing a bulletproof visit during his visit to the Temple Mount, KAN news reported.
Opposition head and former prime minister Yair Lapid had previously warned that such a visit by Ben-Gvir would spark tensions in Jerusalem and the West Bank, saying that “as weak as Bibi is, he must this time stand up and tell [Ben-Gvir] not to visit the Temple Mount, since people will die,” Lapid said.
On Sunday, Ben-Gvir said he would visit the contentious site in the near future.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Ben-Gvir on Monday to discuss Ben-Gvir’s intention to visit the site. The Likud confirmed that, following consultations with security establishment officials, Netanyahu did not object to Ben-Gvir’s pilgrimage.
This is Ben-Gvir’s first trip to the Temple Mount since the November election.
Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef condemned Ben-Gvir’s visit to the Temple Mount, writing in a letter to the minister: “I heard with sorrow your decision to go up to the Temple Mount, today is the fast day of the Tenth of Tevet, and my position as part of my position as chief rabbi of Israel…I feel the need to warn of the severity of the prohibition to visit the Temple Mount and ask you in the name of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel to avoid visiting the Temple Mount in the future, in order not to mislead the public and especially today as you have been appointed as a minister in the State of Israel and the stumbling block that could come from this due to your influence on the public is very big.”
The chief rabbi pointed to a prohibition that the rabbinate holds by that prohibits visiting any part of the Temple Mount due to uncertainty about the exact boundaries of the site.
By Jerusalem Post Staff and combined sources