Israel's Netanyahu cancels session on Ramadan preparations over flu

Israel's Netanyahu cancels session on Ramadan preparations over flu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled a session about Ramadan preparations because he has the flu.
2 min read
04 March, 2024
Benjamin Netanyahu is the prime minister of Israel [ABIR SULTAN/POOL/AFP/Getty-archive]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled a session that was due to be held on Monday about preparations for Ramadan because he has influenza.

The infection meant Netanyahu was also absent from two additional meetings held on Sunday and Monday, The New Arab's Arabic edition Al-Araby Al-Jadeed said.

It comes after Israeli media reported last week that far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir would not be allowed to prevent Palestinian citizens of Israel from praying at Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, during Ramadan.

Israel's Channel 12 reported that the country's war cabinet, which includes Netanyahu, had determined it would be the only authority on policy regarding the Muslim sacred place.

The broadcaster said police will be in charge with deciding the limit on the number of Muslim faithful allowed taking into consideration safety issues only.

Ben-Gvir has reportedly called on the police to let just a few thousand Muslims access the site in Ramadan.

The extremist minister told Kobi Shabtai, the chief of Israel's police, on Sunday to limit entry so that the force is prepared to quickly address any disruption, the Maariv newspaper said.

As part of Israel's preparations for Ramadan, the holy month during which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, Shabtai, army chief of staff Herzi Halevi, and Shin Bet intelligence service head Ronen Bar held a joint security assessment on Sunday.

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The aim was to strengthen coordination between the various parties.

Israel has occupied Palestine's West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since 1967.

Palestinians fear Israeli authorities will attempt to overturn the longstanding status-quo agreement governing Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

They are concerned Israeli officials will either try to replace the mosque with a Jewish temple or split the holy site between Muslims and Jews in terms of time and space available for worship.

Israeli settlers and authorities have sought to transform East Jerusalem from a Palestinian Muslim and Christian area into a Jewish one.

Threats to the sanctity of Al-Aqsa are a major issue for many Palestinians and Muslims around the world. Ramadan is often a particularly intense period, when Israeli forces have attacked worshippers at the site.

Israel is currently waging a brutal war on Gaza, which has so far killed more than 30,500 people.