Israeli PM denounces ‘incitement to violence,’ blasts Jordan’s praise of al-Aqsa rioters
Amid tensions, Israel will bar access to Temple Mount for non-Muslims during last 10 days of Ramadan – as it traditionally does
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and other Israeli politicians blasted Palestinian rioters for inciting violence on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and said it is “unacceptable” to encourage rock throwing from the Muslim holy site.
“Israel is doing everything so that everyone can always celebrate their holidays safely – Jews, Muslims and Christians. We expect everyone not to join the lies and certainly not to encourage violence against Jews,” Bennett said.
This year, the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan coincides with the Jewish Passover and both the Catholic and Orthodox Easter dates making for a busy Old City in Jerusalem with worshippers of all three religions converging during the same period.
Israel will bar access to the Temple Mount for non-Muslims from Friday until the end of Ramadan on May 2 – a policy that the government implements every year at the end of Ramadan to avert violence. But critics of the government are panning the decision – which has not been officially announced – as caving to Palestinian demands.
Earlier this week, Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher Khasawneh praised the al-Aqsa Mosque rioters and said he “salutes every Palestinian and member of the Waqf (the Jordanian-backed organization that oversees the holy site) in Jerusalem who throws stones at Zionists to defend against the Israeli occupation.”
Bennett said statements “backing those who … resort to violence... are encouraging rock-throwing and the use of violence against the citizens of the State of Israel.”
Placing the Jerusalem tension in a wider perspective, the Israeli prime minister warned that calls for violence would benefit the Islamist terrorist organization Hamas.
“This is a reward for the inciters, especially Hamas, which are trying to ignite violence in Jerusalem,” he said.
On Monday evening, the Israeli Iron Dome air defense system intercepted a rocket that was fired from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip against border communities in southern Israel. It was reportedly the first Gaza rocket that had been fired against Israel in several months. The Israeli military responded by bombing a weapons depot belonging to Hamas in Gaza.
Justice Minister Gideon Saar said that the statements made by senior Jordanian officials were “grave and unacceptable.”
“The sovereignty of Israel in Jerusalem as its capital is the guarantee of freedom of worship for members of all religions in the city. The attempts of extremist and terrorist elements, such as Hamas, to ignite the territory through a false anti-Israel campaign are transparent and should be condemned,” he said on Twitter.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said he will “continue with dialogue at all diplomatic levels to de-escalate the tensions and emphasize Israel’s efforts to allow freedom of worship for all religions.”
Lapid also announced he was cutting short his vacation in Madrid because of the diplomatic and security crisis.
In addition to Jordanian criticism, several countries – including the United Arab Emirates and Turkey – have expressed concern over the recent violence, but have placed the blame on Israel.
Though the violence is restrained compared to clashes last year which resulted in an 11-day war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza last May, skirmishes between Muslim worshippers and Israeli police have taken place since Friday.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.