4/25 Israel Nitzan Deputy Consul General Consulate General of Israel New York
Following the events of this weekend, I wish to provide the following update:
The situation on the Temple Mount
After the dispersion of the violent riot on Friday morning, 150,000 Muslim worshipers were able to attend prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. During the prayer, a mob led by supporters of Hamas chanted antisemitic slogans on the Temple Mount calling for & glorifying the mass slaughter of Jews. (Video: https://twitter.com/LiorHaiat/status/1517498444486742016?s=20&t=PDCIrQLEThMB73UcEWdObA)
Since the beginning of Ramadan more than 800,000 Muslim worshipers have prayed in the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Terrorist organizations, led by Hamas, and other extremists are attempting to hijack al-Aqsa Mosque. During the last week, a small number of organized rioters have desecrated the sanctity of the Mosque and attempted to harm the multitudes of worshippers marking the holy month of Ramadan. These agitators are spreading false information and videos, which are edited in a manipulative manner with the goal of stoking the flames and disrupting Ramadan-related routines.
Israel will not allow any extremist groups to violate the status quo or incite violence. Israel is upholding prevailing customs, enabling freedom of worship in sites holy to practitioners of all religions. There has been no change in this respect.
Three rockets launched from Gaza
On Friday night terrorists in Gaza fired a rocket aimed at Israel that landed INSIDE the Gaza Strip. The rocket landed next to an UNRWA school.
In response to the rocket fire from Gaza, the Erez Crossing was closed to merchants and laborers. The crossing will reopen tomorrow (Tuesday, April 26th).
Rocket launched from Lebanon
Last night, one rocket launch from Lebanese territory was detected. The rocket landed on open ground (near Kibbutz Matsuba). No warning systems for civilians were activated, in accordance to Home Front Command policy. IDF artillery forces fired approximately 60 shells at open ground in southern Lebanon and near the site from which the rocket was launched.
It is our view that the State of Lebanon bears full responsibility for everything taking place within its territory. The State of Lebanon and the Lebanese Army must fulfill their responsibilities in the area and prevent terrorist activities and launches from their territory towards Israel.
Although Israel is interested in maintaining stability within the region, the state of readiness of our forces remains higher than ever. Israel will continue to take whichever measures are necessary to safeguard its sovereignty, as well as the security of the residents of the North and of all citizens of Israel.
Prime Minister Bennett spoke with US President Biden and UN Secretary General Guterres
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke yesterday with US President Biden. The Prime Minister wished the President a Happy Easter and updated him on the efforts to stop the violence and incitement in Jerusalem.
The Prime Minister and the President discussed the Iranian issue — in particular the Iranian demand to remove the IRGC from the US Foreign Terror Organization (FTO) list.
PM Bennett: "I'm sure President Biden — who is a true friend of Israel and cares about its security — will not allow the IRGC to be removed from the list of terrorist organizations. Israel has clarified its position on the issue: The IRGC is the largest terrorist organization in the world."
President Biden accepted Prime Minister Bennett's invitation to visit Israel and announced that he intends to visit Israel in the coming months.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett also spoke with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Saturday night.
PM Bennett: "The international community must not serve the agenda of the terrorist organizations. Israel is the stabilizing force; if we did not uphold order, tens of thousands of Muslims would not be able to pray. These are people who prepared rocks and Molotov cocktails in advance for use from inside the mosque.”
Prime Minister Bennett expressed his disappointment at the absence of condemnation by the UN for the firing of rockets at Israel.
The two also discussed the UN Secretary General's expected trip to see Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelenskyy, and the efforts to resolve the situation between Russia and Ukraine.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s International Press Briefing (April 24th, 2022)
(Communicated by the MFA Spokesperson)
Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid today (Sunday, April 24, 2022), briefed members of the foreign press at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem. Following are excerpts from his remarks:
“In the past three weeks, there has been a dangerous effort underway in Jerusalem. During Ramadan, terrorist organizations have been trying to hijack the Al-Aqsa Mosque in order to create an outbreak of violence in Jerusalem, and from there, a violent conflict across the country. Hamas and Islamic Jihad extremists burst into Al-Aqsa Mosque in the early mornings, again and again. They brought weapons into the Mosque. They threw rocks and explosives from within it, and used it as a base to incite violent riots.”
“It is not Israel that endangered worshippers -it is the terrorist organizations who endangered them.”
“I want to clarify: Israel is committed to the Status Quo on the Temple Mount. Muslims pray on the Temple Mount, non-Muslims visit. There is no change. There will be no change. We have no plans to divide the Temple Mount between religions. We call on Muslim moderates, on Muslim states, to act against this fake news, and to work together with us to ensure our common interest: preservation of the Status Quo and calming the situation.”
“During Ramadan, Israel ensured that hundreds of thousands of Muslims could go to the Temple Mount and pray at Al-Aqsa. Despite provocations by terrorist organizations, despite attempts to stoke violence: We have done, and continue to do everything to enable peaceful prayer. In fact, the only disruption to prayers yesterday, was a Hamas rally which took place on the Temple Mount. Hamas terrorists stood there and openly called for the murder of Jews. That is Hamas's prayer – an antisemitic call for the slaughter of innocents.”
“One last issue: Israel will not accept rocket fire from Gaza. Period. We have a zero-tolerance policy for attacks on our territory. Because of such rocket fire, we took the decision not to enable workers from Gaza to enter Israel today. In Gaza, like in Jerusalem, Hamas is primarily abusing its own people. Before Ramadan, we announced that if this period would pass quietly, we would double the number of work permits from Gaza to 20,000. That is 20,000 workers who would be able to work daily in Israel and support their families. In light of recent events, we will have to examine this decision carefully.”
“You know, when festivals of the three religions coincide, it should be a cause for joy. We should be able to celebrate together. Respect one another. Enjoy one another's traditions and cultures. That is the true spirit of Jerusalem. I believe that is what the majority want, and that is what the silent majority does.”
Video on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/100008846359405/posts/2805433099761541/?d=n
Holy Light Ceremony
On Sunday, thousands gather at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, for the Holy Fire ceremony.
In ordinary years before the pandemic, about 10,000 worshipers attended the Holy Light ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. In the years 2020-2021 the number was greatly reduced due to restrictions imposed because of the pandemic. This year most of the COVID restrictions have been lifted and foreigners can enter Israel without a problem. Following the Meron tragedy, it was decided to implement the "Safety Law" and as a result to restrict entry into the church. Thousands of worshipers were able to join the ceremony from outside the church.
The State of Israel, since its inception, has been committed to the freedom of religion and worship in Jerusalem and especially in the holy places.
The Holy Light ceremony is one of the most important ceremonies for the Eastern Christian world and is performed in coordination with the authorities in Israel, the Eastern Churches and many countries in the world where there are Orthodox Christian communities.
The State of Israel is committed to maintaining the safety of worshipers and the safety of events. We work to enable believers from Israel and around the world to participate in this important ceremony, while taking all necessary steps to protect visitors.
The ISA thwarted an attempt by the PIJ in the Gaza Strip to establish a terrorist network in Judea and Samaria meant to carry out terrorist attacks against Israel
Cleared for publication: in recent months, the Israel Security Agency has uncovered and thwarted an attempt by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in the Gaza Strip to establish a terrorist network in Judea and Samaria meant to carry out terrorist attacks against Israel.
As part of the operation, a number of Palestinians from Jenin and the surrounding villages who had been recruited by PIJ operatives from the Gaza Strip for military activities were apprehended by ISA and IDF forces.
We will continue to update.
Israel Nitzan Deputy Consul General Consulate General of Israel New York