On July 18, the Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett claimed, in both English and Hebrew, that Jews should have “freedom of worship” in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which directly challenged the current arrangement, in which it is exclusively a prayer location for Muslims. Although anonymous officials in his office rejected his claim on the following day, it remained on his social media account.
On the same day, religious Jews entered the mosque and prayed, while the Israeli police provided protection (Times of Israel, 2021). This was not an isolated incident, as extremist MKs that are part of the new government have clearly stated their intention to seize the Al-Aqsa Mosque. This article shows how the sanctity of the mosque has been incrementally infringed by expulsion, assaults and other violations.
Israeli Jewish extremists, meanwhile, claim that tunnels have been discovered under the mosque that ‘prove’ an ancient Jewish presence; celebrate of the birth of a red unfertile cow in the belief that It precedes the construction of the Temple Mount on the site; and seek to legalize Jewish prayer in the mosque and increase the Jewish presence there. Their activities are not confined to the mosque and have also occurred at other potential flashpoints, such as Damascus Gate.
As the assaults grow in number and scale, Jewish Israeli extremists increasingly voice the belief that Palestinians should be expelled from Jerusalem or even killed. Although the recently elected Israeli government is politically weak, its election has strengthened the far-Right in the Knesset, and this has helped create an environment where these recent provocations appear more acceptable and even legitimate.