Netanyahu backs Ben-Gvir in restricting Palestinian access to Temple Mount during Ramadan

Arab Israelis, including those in eastern Jerusalem, will be allowed in much more freely.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has backed the demand of National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, to heavily limit access of Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria to the Temple Mount during the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan.  This year Ramadan begins on March 10.

The only age groups that will reportedly be allowed in freely are those over 60 and under 10, which would mean about 15,000 people. Tens of thousands of Arab Israelis, including those from eastern Jerusalem, will be permitted access, with some limitations being “examined.”

In recent years, Ramadan has been a time of increased clashes between Arabs and Jews, and police have often been forced to intervene to prevent rioting on the Temple Mount during prayer times. It has not been unusual for age restrictions to apply to those who want to pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque in an effort to prevent violence.

Opposition MKs called the move “capitulation” to the far-right, with Labor MK Gilad Kariv stating that “Netanyahu again surrendered to Ben-Gvir, in another dangerous and racist decision that could add unnecessary fuel to the flames of violence.”

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The Shabak had opposed limitations on Muslim Israelis worshiping at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, according to Haaretz, saying that it was not a good idea to provoke Arab anger at Israel at this time. Residents of the Palestinian Authority over the age of 45, which has been a more typical age restriction, was also reportedly recommended.

Without going into specifics of the restrictions, which are said to not be finalized as yet, the Prime Minister’s Office stated that Netanyahu had “made a balanced decision that allows freedom of religion with necessary security limits, which have been set by professional officials.”

An official close to the prime minister added that rather than a “surrender,” Netanyahu “has simply asked to act responsibly.”

Ben-Gvir had shown an even harder line on Saturday night, when he wrote that “We should not allow residents from the ‘Palestinian’ Authority to enter Israel in any way during Ramadan. We cannot take chances and risks.”

He also said that it could not be that “while female hostages are being raped in Gaza, Israel will enable Hamas to celebrate victory on the Temple Mount.”

He was seemingly referring to the fact that Hamas had dubbed its invasion and massacre of 1,200 people in Israel on October 7 that sparked the ongoing war as “the Al Aqsa Flood.”  Clearly this was meant to tie it directly to Jerusalem and Islam’s third-holiest site.

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According to polls, a large majority of Palestinians in Judea and Samaria support Hamas, with the popularity of the terror organization rising exponentially after the massive surprise attack.

Since the war began IDF forces have made nightly raids into Palestinian towns and villages and have arrested more than 3,000 terrorists belonging to several groups, including Hamas and the Palestinian Authority’s own Fatah brigades. They have thereby prevented hundreds of potential attacks, including the invasion of Israeli communities to copy Hamas’ actions on what Israelis call “the Black Sabbath.”