“Don't look for us”: Israel declares it “respects” freedom to pray in Ramadan, but is “ready” to respond to any provocation

Israel “respects” the freedom to pray, but is “ready” to respond to any provocation or excesses during the month of Ramadan, which began on Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said in a video message.

“The State of Israel respects the freedom to pray at al-Aqsa (Islam's third holiest site located in East Jerusalem, a part of the city occupied by Israel since 1967, editor's note) and at all holy sites,” said Mr. Galant posted this message on his Telegram channel.

But “Ramadan can also be a month of jihad, and we say to everyone: Don't look for us. We are ready, make no mistake,” he warned. The warning comes amid the increasingly tense atmosphere of the war in Gaza, which has raised fears of clashes in Jerusalem's Old City.

The Esplanade des Mosques (or Temple Mount for Jews) is the third holiest site in Islam and the holiest site in Judaism. While the Muslim holy site is administered by Jordan, Israel imposes restrictions there, particularly on the number of worshipers or their age. The Israeli government announced last week that Muslim worshipers would be allowed to pray there “in the same number as in previous years”. Tens of thousands of people go there every year during Ramadan.

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In May 2021, restrictions imposed by Israel in the middle of Ramadan led to almost daily clashes between young Palestinians and Israeli police officers.

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