The Israeli agricultural minister, Uri Ariel, marched into Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem on Monday with over one hundred settlers and armed guards, adding to a spate of recent incursions.
Last year Netanyahu lifted a ban on Knesset Members visiting the site, which had been reportedly introduced to assuage tensions. Since then there have been a significant volume of incursions into Al-Aqsa.
Uri Ariel belongs to the radical The Jewish Home party, associated with nationalist politics and which has been led by a leader who stands for annexation of Area C of the West Bank and opposition to statehood for Palestinians.
2018 saw a 17% increase in incursions into Al-Aqsa by settlers, with a total of nearly 30,000 according to Middle East Monitor, which were usually facilitated by Israeli security forces. Last year, and not for the first time, Israeli police fired tear gas at worshippers in the Al-Aqsa compound and used live ammunition as documented in The New Arab.
Israel claims sovereignty over Al-Aqsa Mosque and its status has been central to the situation, a key illustration of the occupation’s pernicious effect on Palestinians daily lives.
East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, is recognised as Palestinian by the international community and is unlawfully occupied by Israel.