RAMALLAH, Tuesday, January 3, 2022 (WAFA) - A Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) senior official today slammed Israeli far-right minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s incursion into Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
“Ben Gvir’s shameless storming of AlAqsa Mosque, under the protection of the occupation forces and protected by the decision of his prime minister, is a prelude to a larger measure if there is no Palestinian, Arab, Islamic and international response to it,” Secretary-General of PLO Executive Committee Hussein al-Sheikh tweeted.
Al-Sheikh urged all brotherly Arab countries to “take a firm stance against the occupation government and its escalatory policies”.
Israel’s far-right national security minister Ben-Gvir barged his way into Al-Aqsa Mosque's courtyards in the early morning hours, a move that bounds to inflame tensions.
A video posted on social media shows Ben-Gvir touring the courtyards with a heavy police escort.
This is not the first time that Ben-Gvir has stormed Al-Aqsa. In May last year, accompanied by his wife and son, Ben-Gvir posted a picture calling for the destruction of the site to "establish a synagogue on the mountain".
Since Israel occupied the site following the 1967 war, Jewish prayer at the site has been forbidden, though far-right settlers such as Ben-Gvir (some of whom want to demolish Al-Aqsa and replace it with a third Jewish temple) have frequently prayed there under strict security in recent years.
The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it holds Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "responsible for Ben-Gvir's storming of Al-Aqsa and its consequences".
It went on to add that it "strongly condemns the extremist minister Ben-Gvir's storming of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and considers it an unprecedented provocation and a serious threat" to regional stability.
When former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon made a similar trip to the site in 2000, it sparked the Second Intifada Palestinian uprising.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound houses both the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque and is considered the third holiest site in Islam.
Al-Aqsa is located in East Jerusalem, a part of the internationally recognized Palestinian territories that have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.