Hamas warns Israel against Al-Aqsa mosque violations during Ramadan after Ben-Gvir storming
The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas said it would react to any possible "violations" by Israel at the holy site of Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem during the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan, following provocations by a key Israeli minister.
Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, issued the warning less than two weeks before the start of Ramadan and amid an escalation in Israeli violence towards Palestinians under Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
It comes two months after far-right Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Salah Al-Aruri, deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, said the risk of escalation entirely "depends on the Israeli occupation's violations across Palestine and at Al-Aqsa mosque" located in occupied East Jerusalem.
Al-Aqsa, a Jordan-administered mosque compound, is the third holiest site in Islam but has been targeted by far-right Israelis who call it Temple Mount.
The Hamas official warned that any Israeli attempt to "impose" its policies during Ramadan would be met with the "reaction of our people", Aruri said in remarks carried by his movement's official website.
Despite this, the group said it has no plans to initiate an escalation during Ramadan, according to the English-language version of Aruri's remarks, although such a clarification does not appear in the Arabic version.
Under a longstanding status quo, non-Muslims can visit the site at specific times but are not allowed to pray there.
In recent years, a growing number of Jews, most of them Israeli nationalists, have covertly prayed at the compound, a development decried by Palestinians.
A controversial visit in 2000 by then-opposition leader Ariel Sharon was one of the main triggers for the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, which lasted until 2005.
Since the start of the year, Israeli violence has claimed the lives of 81 Palestinian adults and children.
Thirteen Israelis, including three children and one policeman, and one Ukrainian civilian have been killed over the same period, according to an AFP tally based on official sources from both sides.