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Tel Aviv will be restricting access for Muslim worshippers to the Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan. (Image: Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

Despite warnings from Israel’s own security service, Tel Aviv will reportedly be restricting access for Muslim worshippers to the Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly agreed to restrict the entry of Palestinians into the Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan, despite warnings from the Shin Bet security service that such a prohibition could intensify the conflict. 

 Netanyahu met with Israeli ministers and senior officials in the security establishment on Sunday for “security consultations” ahead of Ramadan, according to Israeli media. 

The Israeli prime minister accepted the recommendations of far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to limit the entry of Palestinians into the mosque compound, a source told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, adding that the decision was taken contrary to the Shin Bet position. 

“Despite warnings from the Shin Bet (internal security agency) of potential disturbances between Palestinians inside Israel and the Israeli police, Netanyahu agreed to a recommendation from Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir to limit the access of Palestinian faithful to the Al-Aqsa Mosque during the upcoming month of Ramadan,” the Israeli Channel 13 reported, according to Anadolu.

The Israeli security agency reportedly warned that this decision could cause more “dangerous” disruption than the eruption of tensions in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and surrounding territories in 1948 when the State of Israel was declared.

Haaretz further reported that Netanyahu did not accept, however, Ben-Gvir’s position in favor of allowing the Israeli police to raid the Al-Aqsa compound “if worshippers would hang banners supporting terrorism or wave the Palestinian flag.”

The report adds that it was also decided that criteria that would allow the worshippers to enter the compound, such as age and residential restrictions, would be determined at a later date following police instructions.

The Palestinian Resistance movement, Hamas, has slammed the decision as a “violation of the freedom of worship in the blessed Al-Aqsa mosque.”

Ramadan is expected to begin in the second week of March.

Hamas Condemns Decision

In a statement on Sunday, Hamas said it further entrenched “the Zionist criminality and the religious war led by the group of extremist settlers” in the Israeli government who are “against our Palestinian people.”

“We call on our Palestinian people in the occupied interior, Al-Quds, and the occupied West Bank, to reject this criminal decision,” and to “mobilize, travel and station in the blessed Al-Aqsa mosque.”

The movement further warned Israel that “any harm on Al-Aqsa Mosque or the freedom of worship in it will not pass without accountability.”

On Saturday, Ben-Gvir stated his position on X saying that no Palestinians should be permitted to enter Israel from the West Bank “in any way”.

He wrote, “We should not take this chance and risk (ourselves),” and added, “It is impossible that (Israeli) women and children are taken hostage in Gaza, and we will allow Hamas to celebrate its victory on the Temple Mount.”

Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz said on his social media account that “Considering the sensitivity around the security situation, restrictions will be put in place for security purposes alone. These restrictions have yet to be decided.”

Constant Restrictions 

Since the beginning of the assault on the Gaza Strip following October 7, Israeli police have restricted Palestinian Muslims’ access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, particularly on Fridays.

Last Friday, despite Israeli restrictions, approximately 25,000 Palestinian faithful were able to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem to perform Friday prayers for the first time since the conflict began. 

An official in Jerusalem’s Islamic Endowments Department, who asked not to be named due to backlash from the Tel Aviv government, told Anadolu that this is the longest stretch of Fridays in a row that Palestinians have been barred by the Israeli authorities from offering prayers in the mosque since the start of the war on October 7. 

 (PC, Anadolu)

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