Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir caused another stir on Thursday when he decided to ascend the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in honor of Tisha B’Av.
The visit marks his third time to the Old City's Temple Mount since becoming a cabinet minister last November.
The first visit occurred in January and the Israeli government was roundly condemned by world leaders.
His second visit took place in May just two days after Jerusalem Day.
Accompanying him for this visit were Negev and Galilee Development Minister Yitzhak Wasserlauf of Jewish Power party and Likud party Knesset Member Amit Halevi.
During his Temple Mount visit, Ben Gvir made a statement calling for unity.
“On this day, in this place, it’s very important to remember, we are all brothers. Right-wing, left-wing, religious, secular, we are all the same people. When a terrorist looks out the window, he doesn’t discriminate between us. Unity is important, and love of Israel is important,” Ben Gvir said.
He also called for Israel to increase its control over the Temple Mount.
“This place is the most important place for the people of Israel where we need to return and show our governance.”
Wasserlauf posted a message to social media following the visit, calling the site “the holy place of the people of Israel.”
“On this day, more than ever - may we be granted complete redemption and the building of the Temple soon in our days, Amen!” he added.
Palestinian and Arab media criticized Ben Gvir’s visit, with the Palestine Chronicle running the headline: “Ben-Gvir at It Again: Extremist Minister Storms Al-Aqsa Mosque”.
Palestinian Authority spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh called Ben Gvir’s visit “dangerous" and said it "contributes to the escalation of the situation.”
Hamas spokesperson Hazem Kassem called Ben Gvir’s visit “an escalation of a religious war the occupation is waging against Jerusalem and al-Aqsa.”
Jordan’s Foreign Ministry also condemned the visit.
In a statement, ministry spokesperson Sinan al-Majali said, “We condemn the arrival of the Israeli National Security Minister to the Temple Mount site and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Al-Majali also warned that allowing “extremists” to the site could lead to further violence.
“The extremists' storming is an example of an illegal, inflammatory and blatant move against the law and history. Israel has no sovereignty over occupied Palestine. The continued Israeli provocations and breaches of history and law could result in a new era of escalations and violence,” according to the statement.
The United States Embassy in Jerusalem criticized Ben Gvir’s visit to the Temple Mount.
“The U.S. stands firmly for the preservation of the historic status quo with respect to the holy sites in Jerusalem,” the embassy said in a statement. “Any unilateral action or rhetoric that jeopardizes the status quo is unacceptable.”
The Kingdom of Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt condemned Ben Gvir's presence on Temple Mount, calling it a 'provocation.'
Israel Police said they arrested at least 16 Jewish worshippers and two Arabs for clashes with police and for causing disturbances.
Hebrew media reported that over 1,700 Jews ascended to the Temple Mount during visitation hours this year, a significant increase over previous years.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.