Israeli ministers, MKs break into Aqsa Mosque Published: Mon, 09-July-2018

A number of Israeli ministers and members of the Knesset defiled al-Aqsa Mosque courtyards on Sunday morning amid heavy presence of Israeli police forces.

This break-in is the first of its kind after Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued an edict a few days ago ending a ban imposed on lawmakers and ministers that prohibited them from visiting the holy site.

The first minister to enter the Mosque was Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel who headed the first group of settlers that entered al-Aqsa Mosque via al-Maghariba Gate and toured its courtyards.

In statements following the break-in, Ariel said, "We are witnessing significant progress, and anyone who was here three years ago will appreciate this. Thankfully we have a public security minister, a police chief, and leaders who care about us and facilitate our visits to the Temple."

Later in the morning, MK Sharren Haskel of the ruling Likud party also entered the site with a different settler group, the Hebrew TV channel Seven reported.

Haskel said that this is the first time she has been able to enter the holy site since Netanyahu imposed the ban three years ago, claiming that al-Aqsa Mosque is part of the Jewish culture and heritage.

A few days ago Netanyahu said he would lift the ban on parliamentarians visiting al-Aqsa Mosque, three years after the government forbade them from entering the site due to "security concerns".

Minister Ariel, who had repeatedly led settler break-ins into al-Aqsa Mosque, said, "Neither the King of Jordan nor Mahmoud Abbas can decide here. Israel is the only decision maker."

Source: Palestinian Information Center