One of the itikaf activities that the occupation sought to prevent in Al-Aqsa Mosque last Ramadan (Al-Jazeera)

Occupied Jerusalem -

Observers consider that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s acquiescence to the recommendation of National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, to impose restrictions on the entry of worshipers from inside Palestine and occupied Jerusalem to Al-Aqsa Mosque during the month of Ramadan, crossed all red lines and ignited the fuse of a religious confrontation.

Although the final official decision on this matter will be taken in the coming days, Netanyahu agreed to restrict the entry of worshipers to Al-Aqsa Mosque, contrary to the recommendation of the Israeli security services, as Ben Gvir’s request was not accepted by both the army and the Israeli Internal Security Service (Shin Bet) for fear of escalation in all matters. From the West Bank and Jerusalem and fueling clashes between Palestinians inside and the Israeli police.

Although the extremist Minister Ben Gvir also opposes the entry of worshipers from the West Bank into Jerusalem to pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan, his government has not taken a decision in this regard, and the discussion is still taking place about the age groups that will be allowed to enter.

Commenting on Netanyahu’s approval of Ben Gvir’s proposal to restrict worshipers’ access to Al-Aqsa during Ramadan... Sheikh Kamal Khatib warns of a catastrophe that may lead to tense security conditions in all Palestinian territories, and says that the Palestinian people will not let Al-Aqsa down and will not leave it alone

- Al Jazeera Net | Jerusalem (@Aljazeeraquds) February 19, 2024

"It will not pass"

In response to the Israeli restriction decision, the first Palestinian response came in a statement issued by the Supreme Follow-up Committee to the Arab public in which it warned against accepting Minister Ben Gvir’s requests.

She added, "The month of Ramadan is a month of worship and piety, but the racist mentality that dominates the Israeli government has made it a month of provocations, threats, oppression, and deprivation of freedom of worship for the owners of the homeland, the holy sites, the first two qiblahs, and the third of the Two Holy Mosques."

The follow-up committee stressed that Ben Gvir’s conditions, which were approved by Benjamin Netanyahu, are “a declaration of all-out war against us and a prelude to emptying the Holy Mosque in order for the settlers to take control of Al-Aqsa Mosque in preparation for its demolition, according to what the settlers and extremists in general have sought over the years.”

The head of the committee, Mohamed Baraka, said in the same statement that this decision “will never pass,” adding that “attempts to empty Al-Aqsa will fail, and with them the plans of these people will fail.”

He called on the international community and the Arab and Islamic countries to work to stop this dangerous escalation, in addition to stopping the war of genocide in Gaza.

“We will act firmly against anyone who tries to disturb the peace and order in the Noble Sanctuary.” The Israeli occupation forces hung leaflets threatening Jerusalemites in the town of Jabal Mukaber in occupied Jerusalem yesterday evening, Sunday, and warned them against participating in “riots and violence at Al-Aqsa during Ramadan,” according to the statement.

Hebrew media announced...

- Al Jazeera Net | Jerusalem (@Aljazeeraquds) February 19, 2024


In the opinion of the researcher specializing in Israeli affairs, Alif Sabbagh, the government’s decision is likely to be flexible according to the security conditions, as the security forces will conduct weekly assessments at several levels of what the Palestinian and Islamic reaction might be. “If there is grudging acceptance, or contentment with prayer, the decision will be implemented and Zionism will advance.” Religious matters are another step in the ongoing march to seize Al-Aqsa.”

Speaking to Al Jazeera Net, Sabbagh added that if security assessments indicate that this step will spark a clash or an uprising, then it will be forced to decide whether it is interested in escalation or not, and then it will continue or retreat.

He said, "The sensitive assessments will be on two levels: what the reaction will be inside the Palestinian territories and in Jordan. It is possible that they will retreat slightly in front of the Muslims inside, under the guidance of the Israeli government's judicial advisor, with the aim of separating the Islamic groups and preventing the unity of the fronts."

Fears among the occupation security services before Ramadan about the ignition of #Jerusalem and the #West_Bank.. Here are the most prominent events that Al-Aqsa witnessed during the last three years, which led to the outbreak of the Battle of Saif Al-Quds and the Battle of Al-Aqsa Flood

- Al Jazeera Net | Jerusalem (@Aljazeeraquds) February 19, 2024

Playing with fire

As for the expert on Israeli affairs, Muhammad Halsa, in his interview with Al Jazeera Net, he described Netanyahu’s decision as playing in fire, and that he and his extreme right are still investing in every available opportunity to break the red lines and taboos related to Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Halsa said that despite all the warnings of the security services, Netanyahu is submitting to right-wing blackmail in the interest of the stability of his government coalition, and he knows that not keeping up with the right at this stage means clashes with it, and he does not want that.

He added, "Al-Aqsa has always been a propaganda material for Ben Gvir and the nationalist Zionist right, and they do not hide that one of their goals is to transform it from an Arab-Islamic sanctuary into a Talmudic Torah, and now this minister is exploiting the security situation to jump towards achieving his goals with this mosque, and this is evidence that Israel does not give consideration to considerations." Religious law, international law, and the feelings of millions of Muslims.

He continued, "The most dangerous thing about this decision is the government's adventure in opening new fronts against it, which is what Ben Gvir spoke about previously, with the presence of 4 fronts, one of which is the Palestinian interior, which he wants to ignite by taking this step."

Regarding the repercussions of implementing this decision if it is finally approved in the coming days, Halasa said that it would ignite a religious confrontation, especially since this place is not sacred to the Palestinians alone. “But the question is, will the Arab world remain in the context of dull reactions? If the answer is yes, then the right will consider this step a victory for it and qualifies it to do in Al-Aqsa what it pleases in the coming days.”

Test reactions

Halsa says, “Unfortunately, Netanyahu experienced the reactions to the Gaza massacres in both the Arab, Islamic and international world, and found that they were lukewarm, and did not go beyond the limits of condemnation, denunciation, concern, and expression of fears. This cannot deter him from pursuing his political goals,” according to the Palestinian expert.

Halsa concluded his speech to Al Jazeera Net by saying that Netanyahu believes that as long as no party in the world dares to stand against his will for what he did in Gaza, no one will challenge him and stand against him in a security issue such as the issue of entering Al-Aqsa Mosque, as he claims.

It is noteworthy that Al-Aqsa Mosque was a burning arena during the month of Ramadan during previous years, as the most violent confrontations took place in its courtyards, due to the Jewish Passover raids coinciding with it, at a time when worshipers were trying to seclude themselves throughout the month, while the occupation police insisted on limiting seclusion to the last ten days.

Before Ramadan, Israeli intelligence imposes the penalty of deportation from Al-Aqsa Mosque on dozens of Jerusalemites who are active in defending it, and also prevents many from reaching it by strengthening its presence at its doors and the alleys leading to it with overt and secret police forces.

In addition to this, obstructing the entry of iftar meals for fasting people, obstructing the arrival of buses coming from the cities and towns of the Palestinian interior and detaining them on the outskirts of the city, and escalating the occupation forces’ provocations against Jerusalemites in Damascus Gate, the most prominent gathering point for those heading to the mosque, and after Tarawih prayers, leading to the outbreak of daily confrontations aimed at The occupation used it to intimidate Jerusalemites and make them reluctant to take their children to pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan.

Source: Al Jazeera