Israeli minister call for Palestinian home demolition may escalate matters in Ramadan: Al-Azhar

Ahram Online , Tuesday 7 Mar 2023

Al-Azhar warned on Tuesday that the recent statements of the Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir calling for the continuation of the demolition of Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem could lead to a flare up in confrontations between the two sides during the holy month of Ramadan.

Israeli military bulldozers demolish a house of a Palestinian family, built without the municipality
Israeli military bulldozers demolish a house of a Palestinian family, built without the municipality s permission, in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Wadi al-Joz on March 6, 2023. AFP


In a statement on Tuesday, the Al-Azhar Observatory for Combating Extremism (AOCE) warned that "Despite the suspension of demolitions of unlicensed buildings of Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem during the month of Ramadan in fear of flaring up of the situation and a possible third Palestinian intifada, still, the statements made by the security minister could ignite confrontations in the city."

The observatory stressed that “the statements of the extremist Zionist Ben-security minister Gvir's remarks in which he called for continuing to demolish Palestinian homes comes in the same context of what Jerusalem faces in terms of a systematic Zionist plan to force a new reality on the city and its sacred sites and ignores the sanctity of the holy month.”

The statement cited a report in the Israeli paper Yedioth Ahronoth which indicated that the occupation forces plan to evict six Palestinian families from their homes in the neighbourhoods of Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah during the month of March under the pretext that the land belongs to a settlement association and settlers’ families.

“This is an unprecedented number of evictions in one month,” the statement warned.

In recent months, repeated deadly Israeli raids in the West Bank and the continued demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem have led to major confrontations between the Palestinian and Israeli sides.

The statement also cited a leaked audio recording in which Ben-Gvir can be heard rejecting the closure of Al-Aqsa Mosque to Israeli settlers during the last ten days of Ramadan - which is set to start on 23 March - claiming that such closure amounts to “a surrender to terrorism.”

The far-right government of PM Benjamin Netanyahu has triggered widespread anger in the occupied territories and beyond after it announced to build thousands of new settlement units in the West Bank.

However, under pressure from Arab and world leaders, Netanyahu agreed in late February to put the construction of new settlement units in the West Bank on hold for six months.

In January, Ben-Gvir led a group of Israeli settlers in storming Al-Aqsa under the protection of Israeli police.

Last week, Ben-Gvir drew widespread local and international condemnation after he called for the wiping out of the Palestinian village of Huwara near Nablus in the West Bank following the killing of two settlers by a Palestinian man in a nearby Israeli settlement.

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