JERUSALEM: Israel’s far-right national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir visited the compound that houses the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem on Tuesday, a move condemned by Palestinians as provocative and despite warnings it could lead to violence.
The Ynet news website carried pictures of Ben-Gvir touring the site under heavy security. The compound is Islam’s third holiest site after Makkah and Madina and Judaism’s most sacred, a vestige of two ancient temples of the faith.
Israel’s opposition leader and former prime minister Yair Lapid had warned that such a visit by Ben-Gvir would spark violence.
Only Muslim worship is allowed at the site, and there was no indication that Ben-Gvir had prayed during his visit.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said it “strongly condemns the storming of Al-Aqsa mosque by the extremist minister Ben-Gvir and views it as an unprecedented provocation and a dangerous escalation of the conflict.”
Ben-Gvir was sworn in last week as part of a new government led by Benjamin Netanyahu that includes far-right and religious parties.
Earlier on Tuesday, Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian teenager during a clash in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian health officials and witnesses said. There was no immediate comment on the incident from the Israeli army.