Turkey condemns Israel minister Ben-Gvir's 'provocative' storming of Al-Aqsa compound

Turkey condemns Israel minister Ben-Gvir's 'provocative' storming of Al-Aqsa compound
2 min read
Far-right Israeli minister Itamar Ben-Gvir's 'provocative action' was 'unacceptable', Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu's office quoted him as telling his Israeli counterpart.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (pictured) called far-right Israeli minister Itamar Ben-Gvir's storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound 'provocative' [ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty-archive]

Turkey on Wednesday condemned Israel's new far-right security minister's "provocative" storming of occupied East Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

"We find the provocative action of Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir against the Al-Aqsa Mosque unacceptable," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu's office quoted him as telling his Israeli counterpart in a telephone call.

Ben-Gvir's storming of the Al-Aqsa compound on Tuesday came just days after he took office with powers over the police, giving his decision to enter the highly sensitive site considerable weight.

Al-Aqsa is the third-holiest site in Islam and the most-sacred Muslim place in Palestine.

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Jews refer to the compound as the Temple Mount and consider it their holiest site, though a significant proportion – particularly from the ultra-Orthodox community – believe praying there violates religious law.

Ankara's condemnation came during a warming of the sides' relations, which froze after an Israeli raid on a Turkish ship carrying aid into the besieged Gaza Strip killed 10 civilians in 2010.

Israel and Turkey announced last August the full restoration of relations and the return of ambassadors to both countries.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen's office confirmed that Cavusoglu conveyed Ankara's "concerns".

"Mr Cohen said Israel is committed to maintaining the status quo of the site, that this visit does not constitute a change of policy, and that freedom of worship for all religions in Jerusalem will be preserved," his office said.

Under the longstanding status-quo agreement governing Al-Aqsa, only Muslims are allowed to pray at the site.

Non-Muslims cannot worship there but may visit.