Israeli Minister Calls for Removal of Ramadan, Heightens Tensions in Jerusalem

Amidst escalating tensions between Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank and Jerusalem, Israeli Minister of Cultural Heritage, Amichai Eliyahu, has sparked controversy by calling for the removal of the holy month of Ramadan.

In a statement to Army Radio quoted by Anadolu Agency on Friday (1/3), Eliyahu demanded the elimination of Ramadan, citing fears and tensions associated with the month. He made these remarks as clashes between Palestinian residents and Israeli forces have intensified, particularly during the Ramadan period.

Eliyahu, a member of the Otzma Yehudit party led by Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir, has a history of making provocative statements. Previously, he stirred public outrage by suggesting the use of nuclear bombs on the Gaza Strip as an option amid escalating tensions in the region.

The recent surge in tensions has raised concerns in Israel, especially with the potential for clashes in the West Bank and Jerusalem following the aggression in Gaza, which resulted in the deaths of over 30,400 people.

Israel's apprehensions are particularly heightened during the Ramadan period, exacerbated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's restrictions on Muslim access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque citing security concerns.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound has long been a flashpoint for tensions between Israelis and Palestinians. In 2000, opposition leader Ariel Sharon's visit to the site sparked deadly riots, and similar incidents occurred in 2023 and 2022, triggered by attempts by Jewish individuals to perform rituals at the holy site, prohibited under Israeli law.

Under the status quo arrangement, only Muslims are permitted to worship at the site, while non-Muslims are allowed to visit but not pray. However, Jewish individuals have been known to flout these regulations, despite the sanctity of the site according to Jewish law.

In light of Eliyahu's provocative remarks and the ongoing tensions, the situation in Jerusalem remains precarious, with the potential for further escalations during the sensitive Ramadan period.

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