Despite nightly rioting, Israel relaxes restrictions on Palestinian visits to Temple Mount

For the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, a time that includes an uptick in Arab violence, the defense minister – for the first time – approved family visits to Israel for Arabs from the Palestinian Authority.

By TPS and World Israel News Staff

Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Tuesday approved the entry of Palestinians from Judea and Samaria into Jerusalem for Friday prayers at the Temple Mount.

This applies to women of all ages, men aged 50 and over and children up to the age of 12, who do not already have permits for entering Israel.

The decision came after a security assessment held under the Gantz’s leadership with the participation of IDF Chief of Staff Major General Aviv Kochavi.

In addition, on the occasion of Ramadan, Gantz—for the first time — approved family visits to Israel for Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria on Sundays through Thursdays.

The defense minister also spoke with PA President Mahmoud Abbas Tuesday evening, wishing him a blessed Ramadan.

“The month of Ramadan must be a month of peace and quiet and not a period marked by terror,” Gantz told Abbas, his spokesperson said in a press release.

Gantz “spoke of the horrendous terror attacks that took the lives of 11 Israeli citizens over the past two weeks and emphasized that Israel will continue to take the measures necessary to prevent attacks and to defend its citizens.”

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The defense minister also expressed appreciation to Abbas for condemning the B’nei Brak terror attack, the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, Arab rioting broke out in the Old City of Jerusalem Sunday night after the end of the day’s Ramadan fasting.

The following night, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid paid a visit to the Old City, sparking a riot outside Damascus Gate. Social media and Hebrew-language news footage from the scene hours after Lapid’s visit showed Arabs violently clashing with police, engaging in fistfights and using iron rods to beat officers.

The Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Ministry released a statement condemning Lapid for the visit, saying it was inherently provocative.

“This is incitement against the Palestinians and an ugly expression of Israeli apartheid in which the occupier protects the Jews and ignores the Muslim and Christian holidays,” the Ministry claimed.

“His tour, accompanied by many police forces, is conclusive proof that he is an occupier of occupied land.”

Another situation assessment will be held next week, chaired by the defense minister, when it will be decided whether to approve an extension of the steps for approving family visits, contingent on the security situation.

This will be the first time in three years that such an exemption for Ramadan is being made; in 2020 and 2021, Covid restrictions prevented the possibility.

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Coordinator of Government Operations in Judea and Samaria Major General Rassan Aliyan briefed senior Palestinian Authority officials and relevant figures in the international community on the steps and gestures for the holiday.