Far-right Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir defied warnings from local and Palestinian politicians when he visited the Al-Aqsa mosque complex in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
The visit to the fire site was condemned by Palestinians and some Israeli politicians as provocative amid warnings that it could lead to violence.
The news website Ynet published photographs of Ben-Gvir traversing the site under heavy security. The complex is the third shrine of Islam after Mecca and Medina and the most shrine of Judaism, where, according to Jews, two ancient temples are located.
Israeli opposition leader and former prime minister Yair Lapid warned that such a visit by Ben Gvir would spark violence.
“Itamar Ben Gvir must not climb the Temple Mount (Al-Aqsa mosque complex),” Lapid tweeted on Monday, warning that the move would result in “a deliberate provocation that will endanger and cost lives.”
Only Muslims are allowed to worship at this site, and there is no indication that Ben-Gvir prayed during his visit.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said it “strongly condemns the assault on the Al-Aqsa Mosque by extremist minister Ben Gvir and views it as an unprecedented provocation and a dangerous escalation of the conflict.”
Earlier Monday, the Palestinian Authority issued a warning to Israel over reports of a possible visit by Ben Gvir.
Nabil Abu Rudayneh, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority, said Israel’s repeated threats to the status quo at the Al-Aqsa Mosque “will have serious repercussions for everyone.”
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. He annexed the entire city in 1980, which was never recognized by the international community.
Abu Rudeineh also warned that if the US fails to pressure Israeli leaders to stop their provocations, the situation could “get out of hand.”
Ben-Gvir was sworn in last week as part of a new government led by Benjamin Netanyahu, which includes far-right and religious parties.