December 7, 2023

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s visit to the Temple Mount, two days after Jerusalem Day, was met with fierce criticism from the international community.

“I am happy to go up to the Temple Mount, the most important place for the people of Israel,” said Ben-Gvir during the visit. “It should be said that the police are doing a wonderful job here and once again proving who is in charge in Jerusalem. All of Hamas’s threats will not [change anything], we are in charge of Jerusalem and the entire Land of Israel.”

“It should be said that the police are doing a wonderful job here and once again proving who is the master in Jerusalem. All the threats of Hamas will not [change anything], we are the masters of Jerusalem and the entire Land of Israel.”

Itamar Ben-Gvir

While about 1,146 Jews visited the Temple Mount on Thursday amid Jerusalem Day festivities, including other coalition ministers, the minister himself did not.

Ben-Gvir on Sunday also referenced ongoing tensions surrounding the national budget, saying, “We need to remember our brothers in the Negev and the Galilee. In the upcoming budget, we must invest in the Negev and the Galilee. Jerusalem is our soul, the Negev and the Galilee is our soul, we must invest, we must act there, we must be the owners of both the Negev and the Galilee, and the foundation of this is the budget.”

The head of the Temple Mount Administration, Rabbi Shimshon Elbaum, welcomed the visit stating “Ben-Gvir has been active since his youth in favor of Jewish pilgrimages to the Temple Mount, and since taking office has already caused significant improvements, removing hundreds of harassers and strengthening Israel’s rule on the Temple Mount.”

Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount raised the Israeli flag while singing the national anthem “Hatikva,” as over a thousand Jews visited the complex to mark Jerusalem Day. Despite the holiday officially being on Friday, most of the festivities were moved to Thursday to avoid a desecration of Shabbat.

Video from the scene showed a man carrying a small flag while the group walking with him sang “Hatikva.”. The man carrying the flag was detained. At least three additional individuals raised Israeli flags on the Mount on Thursday as well.

The MKs who visited the Temple Mount on Thursday included Negev and Galilee and National Resilience Minister Yitzhak Wasserlauf (Otzma Yehudit) and Likud MKs Dan Illouz, Ariel Kallner and Amit Halevi.

Clashes erupted between Palestinians, Jews and Israel Police near the Lions’ Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem, shortly before Friday prayers were set to begin at al-Aqsa. Two Israeli civilians and a police officer were injured amid the violence.

Footage reportedly from the scene showed Jews dancing and singing in the area before fights erupted and police intervened, throwing stun grenades into the crowd. Palestinians were seen throwing stones at Jewish individuals during the clashes. The windshields of vehicles belonging to Palestinians were smashed as well, according to Palestinian reports. A number of Palestinians were reportedly injured amid the violence.

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