Ultra-right wing nationalist Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir while storming Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday with a group of radical Israeli nationalists. Photo : A handout to AFP
“Egypt condemns the Israeli minister's incursion into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound accompanied by a group of extremists and affirms that such provocative actions are inconsistent with the wisdom and responsibility that should be demonstrated by official authorities,” the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Sunday.
Ben-Gvir stormed the mosque compound Sunday amid heightened tensions in occupied Jerusalem, in his second such visit since becoming a member of Israel’s government. His first visit in January generated global condemnation and concern.
The Israeli minister entered the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque and performed his prayers in the eastern region and the Bab Al-Rahma area for 30 minutes.
Egypt’s foreign ministry reiterated the country’s long-standing position that the consecutive incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque would not alter the existing legal and historical status of the site.
“Al-Aqsa Mosque remains an exclusively Islamic sanctuary,” the foreign ministry said, calling on the Israeli side to immediately cease the escalations that add fuel to the already existing tensions in the occupied territories.
Under a longstanding status quo, non-Muslims can visit the site at specific times but are not allowed to pray there.
The Islamic Waqf responsible for administering the site echoed Cairo’s reaction, adding that it was delusional to think such action would achieve Israel dreams of Judaizing Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Jordan and Saudi Arabia also strongly condemned Bin-Gvir’s visit as a "flagrant violation of all international law" of the historical and legal status quo in Jerusalem and a provocative and dangerous escalation.
Earlier on Sunday, the US expressed its concern over the provocative visit by Israel's far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem.
"This holy space should not be used for political purposes, and we call on all parties to respect its sanctity," the US State Department spokesman stated.
Earlier this month, fighting erupted between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip that was stopped following a ceasefire that was brokered by Egypt.