Israeli government decides against Ramadan restrictions for Arab Israelis on Temple Mount

As in the past, only restrictions on individuals will be imposed, based on Israel Security Agency intelligence


Temple Mount will be closed apart from to Muslim women and men over 50

(JNS) The Israeli War Cabinet has decided against imposing sweeping restrictions on Arab Israelis’ access to the Temple Mount during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Israeli media reported on Wednesday night.

The Cabinet instead tasked the Israel Police with determining the cap for Muslim worshippers at the Al Aqsa Mosque based strictly on crowd control concerns, Channel 12 reported.

Some 50,000 to 60,000 worshippers, including Palestinians from Judea and Samaria, are expected to be allowed entry to the site initially. The number will be expanded if Ramadan prayers take place without security incidents, according to the report.

As in the past, only restrictions on individuals will be imposed, based on Israel Security Agency intelligence.

The Cabinet also decided it will be the sole body making decisions regarding the flashpoint site during Ramadan, sidelining National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who oversees the police.

The decision comes shortly after Ben Gvir called for Palestinians in the West Bank to be barred from the Temple Mount during the Muslim holy month, which begins on the evening of March 10.

Ben Gvir also pushed to ban Arab Israelis under the age of 70 from accessing the site, Channel 12 reported on Feb. 17.

Jerusalem has in the past permitted Palestinians and Israeli Arabs to visit the Temple Mount during Ramadan, and the security brass supports maintaining this policy amid the war with Hamas in Gaza.

In addition, U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller on Wednesday urged Israel to “facilitate access to Temple Mount for peaceful worshippers during Ramadan, consistent with past practice.”

“It’s not just the merit of granting people religious freedom to which they have a right. It’s a matter directly important to Israel’s security. It is not in Israel’s security interest to enflame tensions in the West Bank or broader region,” Miller told reporters during a press briefing.

Responding to the Channel 12 article on Wednesday night, Ben Gvir said he expects Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to deny the report.

If the Cabinet has decided to remove the Temple Mount from his ministry’s authority, Netanyahu has “decided to follow [Minister] Benny Gantz’s conception that peace is bought by submission and surrender to terrorism,” Ben Gvir charged.

Earlier on Wednesday, Ismail Haniyeh, the Doha-based leader of Hamas’s political bureau, urged the Iran-led “Axis of Resistance” to step up attacks on Israel during Ramadan, calling for a “broad and international movement to break the siege on Al Aqsa mosque.”

The “Axis of Resistance” includes Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Houthis and other Iranian-backed terrorist groups in the Middle East.

In his speech, the terror leader also called on Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank to storm Temple Mount on the first day of Ramadan.

Haniyeh’s comments came a day after Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned that terrorist groups are plotting to step up violent attacks on the Jewish state under the guise of Ramadan.

“The main goal of Hamas is to take Ramadan, with an emphasis on the Temple Mount and Jerusalem, and turn it into the second phase of their plan that began on Oct. 7. This is the main goal of Hamas, and it is being amplified by Iran and Hezbollah,” Gallant said following an assessment at the Jerusalem headquarters of the IDF Central Command, which is responsible for Judea and Samaria.

“We must not give Hamas what it failed to achieve during the beginning of the war and [let it achieve] ‘unity of the battlefields,'” he added, in reference to the terrorist group’s attempts to spark a multi-front war.

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