On Tuesday morning, National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir (Otzma Yehudit Party) ascended to the Temple Mount to commemorate the Tenth of Tevet, the fast day commemorating the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar that led to the destruction of the Temple. Former MK Rabbi Yehudah Glick asked whether this event may trigger Zechariah’s prophecy.
It was Ben-Gvir’s first ascent to the holy site since being sworn in as national security minister last week and marks the first time in five years that a sitting Israeli minister visited the Temple Mount. During his visit, the entrance for Israelis to the Temple Mount was blocked
“Our government will not surrender to threats from Hamas,” Ben Gvir said at the conclusion of his visit.
“The Temple Mount is the most important place for the people of Israel. We maintain the freedom of movement for Muslims and Christians, but Jews also go up to the site, and those who make threats must be dealt with with an iron fist,” he said.
Last night Ben Gvir held a situation assessment with the police commissioner and the Jerusalem District Commander and met with the head of the Shin Bet and they all determined that there is no obstacle for him to go up to the Temple Mount. Security officials who participated in the assessment of the situation also believed that capitulation in the face of the threats would be a reward for terrorism and legitimize future actions against Israel.
Netanyahu reportedly spoke with Ben-Gvir on Monday and gave his approval to the visit, with Likud confirming that the prime minister did not object to the pilgrimage after consultations with security officials.
Opposition head and former prime minister Yair Lapid on the other hand warned that if Ben Gvir went to the Temple Mount, “people would die.”
“Ben-Gvir must not go up to Temple Mount. It is a deliberate provocation that will put lives in danger and cost lives,” said Lapid. “As weak as [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu is, he must, at least this time, stand up and tell him, ‘You are not going to the Temple Mount.’ People will die,” he added.
“MKs go up [to the Temple Mount], ministers don’t — especially not the minister in charge of the National Security Ministry,” Lapid added in response to a reporter’s questions. “It will be viewed by the whole world as breaking the status quo, even if it’s not.”
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich responded to Lapid’s statement at a religious Zionism meeting on Monday, emphasizing that “going up to the Temple Mount is part of the status quo.”