Palestinians condemn Israeli FM's 'provocative' visit to East Jerusalem's Damascus Gate
Both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have slammed Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid's visit to the Damascus Gate in occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday.
Lapid toured East Jerusalem's Old City to meet with occupying Israeli forces as Palestinian Muslims began observing the holy month of Ramadan.
"This is a difficult, tense period, but we have a police [force] that can be relied on to get us through this complex period ... we will give you full backing," Lapid said, adding that more Israeli forces will be deployed during Ramadan.
The move was condemned by Palestinians, who saw it as provocative and instigating violence.
The PA foreign ministry "condemns in the strongest terms the provocative incursion by Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in the Bab al-Amud [Damascus Gate] area in occupied Jerusalem", it said in a statement.
The ministry "strongly condemns the promises he made to Jewish extremists to deploy more occupation forces and police in Jerusalem under the pretext of providing protection for them during the Jewish holidays".
The statement added that Lapid was inciting hate against Palestinians and disregarded the existence of Muslim and Christian holidays in Jerusalem.
Hamas branded Lapid's visit a "dangerous escalation and provocation" and pledged to "defend Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa by force and by all means at our disposal".
Damascus Gate is one of the gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque that is a traditionally popular gathering spot for Palestinians during Ramadan. They are often provoked by Israeli occupying forces, leading to violent clashes and arrests.
Late on Sunday, Israeli police detained 13 Palestinians and injured 20 others at Damascus Gate, according to local media.