Israel warns it is 'ready' for anyone who might 'try us' as Ramadan begins

Tuesday, March 12, 2024
 – Israel's defence minister on Monday, March 11, said that authorities would respect freedom of worship during Ramadan but were 'ready' for anyone who might 'try us'.

'The State of Israel respects the freedom of worship at Al-Aqsa and all holy places,' Yoav Gallant said in a video message, referring to the third-holiest site in Islam, located in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

'The month of Ramadan may be a month of jihad, and we say to everyone not to try us - we are ready, don't make mistakes,' he said in the clip posted on his Telegram channel.

His comments came amid concerns about tensions during Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, a flashpoint for violence during the Muslim fasting month in past years.

During Ramadan, Muslims in their tens and even hundreds of thousands pray at the compound.

On Friday a spokesman for the armed wing of the Hamas militant group called on 'our people' to mobilise and head towards Al-Aqsa.

The compound is also Judaism's most sacred site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.

This year, Israel announced it would limit access during Ramadan, citing security needs with war raging in Gaza.

After hard-right Israeli Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir said recently he wanted tougher restrictions, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the numbers admitted would be similar to last year.

Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said on Monday restrictions imposed by Israel on Muslim worshippers' access to Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound during the Muslim fasting month was pushing the situation towards an 'explosion'.

In remarks on state media, Safadi said his country, which overviews the holy site, rejected Israel's announced move to limit access during Ramadan, citing security needs with war raging in Gaza.

'We warn that desecrating the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque is playing with fire,' Safadi said in a joint news conference with the Vatican's foreign minister Archbishop Paul Gallagher.

'Not allowing worshippers to perform their religious duties and their rituals in this holy month and restricting freedom to enter the Aqsa mosque, all that pushes toward an explosive situation which is what we are warning about,' Safadi added.

Hamas's unprecedented October 7 attack on southern Israel triggered the ongoing war in Gaza, which is now in its sixth month.

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