March 5, 2024 | Flash Brief

Israel Open to Regular Ramadan Access at Al-Aqsa

March 5, 2024 | Flash Brief

Israel Open to Regular Ramadan Access at Al-Aqsa

Latest Developments

Israel signaled readiness on March 5 to allow regular Muslim access to al-Aqsa Mosque over Ramadan despite security concerns. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened top cabinet members and aides to discuss a police proposal to limit the number of Israeli Muslims permitted to attend peak prayers at the site over Ramadan, the fasting month that begins on or around March 10.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir had favored the cap, citing worry that there could be pro-Hamas demonstrations at the mosque, which sits atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Such unrest could yield sectarian violence in Israel against the backdrop of the Gaza war. But Ben-Gvir was provisionally overruled by Netanyahu, who said in a statement that during the first week of Ramadan, “the entry of worshippers to the Temple Mount will be permitted, similar to the numbers in previous years.”

“Israel strongly safeguards freedom of worship for all faiths, at all sites in Israel,” the statement said.

Expert Analysis

“Israel has put the world on notice that Hamas, its Iranian paymaster, and their Lebanese terrorist ally Hezbollah are trying to reignite tensions over Ramadan. All eyes will be on the Temple Mount and al-Aqsa, and Israel deserves credit for championing religious freedom despite the clear risk. Israeli authorities should be spending the remaining days honing their surveillance and intelligence capabilities to enable the identification and interdiction of Temple Mount troublemakers before they reach the site — or after they disperse and leave.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“On one side is Iran and Hamas plotting a second October 7 and blocking a Ramadan ceasefire. On the other side is Israel trying to defuse tensions and respecting Muslim prayer at al-Aqsa. The world is on notice concerning who is behind any violence that unfolds.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“The al-Aqsa compound has, in recent years, seen political provocations over Ramadan that included the hoisting of a giant Hamas banner in 2022. Any such displays this time, in the heart of Israel’s capital, as the Jewish state tries to destroy Hamas’s Gaza fiefdom would be an especially grievous action. The Israeli government is therefore taking a wait-and-see approach and give the relevant Muslim authorities — whether Palestinian or the Jordanian-sponsored Waqf — time to take preventive action.” — Joe Truzman, Senior Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

Palestinian Islamic Jihad calls for Ramadan to be ‘month of terror,’” by Seth J. Frantzman

Israel Sees Iran-Axis Threat Over Ramadan,” FDD Flash Brief

Preventing a Ramadan Explosion in the Holy Land,” by Jonathan Schanzer and Mark Dubowitz


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