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Jordan, Palestinians condemn visit by Israel’s Ben-Gvir to Temple Mount

After two largely-criticized visits since the beginning of the year to the site, Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir visited the Temple Mount compound again, on the Jewish holy day of Tisha B’Av.
Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel's new Minister of National Security and leader of the far-right Jewish Power party, greets supporters during a visit to Mahane Yehuda market, Jerusalem, Dec. 30, 2022.

Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir visited on Thursday morning the Temple Mount compound, known to Palestinians as Haram al-Sharif, on the occasion of the Jewish holiday Tisha B’Av fasting day, while further inflaming tensions and eliciting condemnation from regional countries. 

Thursday’s visit was Ben-Gvir’s third to the site this year. His former visits there — in January and May — sparked outrage in the Arab world and were criticized by the United States and France. Washington and Paris both perceived the visits as provocation vis-a-vis Muslim worshippers and Palestinians, because of Ben-Gvir’s extreme-right positions and statements over Israel’s sovereignty of the site. After his May visit, the State Department said it was "an alarmingly provocative visit."

"Holy places should not be used for political purposes. The United States supports the status quo and calls on all parties to respect the sanctity of the place," the department added.

In all, around 1,000 Israeli Jews toured the Temple Mount compound by 10 a.m. on Thursday morning. Police detained 16 Jewish visitors, on suspicion of breaking rules of conduct at the site. Three of them were detained after they bowed down on the spot. The status quo arrangements on the Temple Mount, adopted after the 1967 Six-Day War, stipulate different visiting hours for Jews and for Muslims. They also prohibit Jews from praying aloud at the site or practicing Jewish rituals there. Still, Temple Mount activists have been trying to pray secretly at the compound over the years, including attempts at blowing the Shofar horn on Jewish holidays. 

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