The Palestinian terrorist group Hamas on Thursday threatened hostile actions against Israel over what it called “violations against Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque” ahead of the Yomim Noraim.
Hamas’s threats came just ahead of Rosh Hashana, and a day after a group of Jews visited the Har Habayis and blew a shofar.
Omer Barlev, Israel’s minister in charge of police, told Kan public radio on Wednesday that Israeli authorities would not limit Jewish visits to Har Habayis.
Visitations and prayers by Jews at the site have triggered previous rounds of violence between Israel and the Palestinians.
Officially, under a loose set of rules known as the “status quo,” Jews are allowed to visit, but not pray at the site, which is managed by a Jordanian-run trust. But in recent years, the number of Jewish visitors to the site has steadily grown, and some hold Jewish prayer at the site under police protection.
Addressing reporters in the city of Gaza, Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar decried what he called a “blatant attack on the religious and Islamic status of the city and the mosque,” saying Israel bore full responsibility for “the possibility of dragging the entire region into an open religious war.”
He said the terrorist group, which rules the Gaza Strip, would “defend the rights and sanctities of our people by all possible means.”
Israel and Hamas have fought four wars in the Gaza Strip since the Islamist militant group seized power in 2007.
The most recent battle, in May 2021, began when Hamas fired rockets at Jerusalem as Israeli nationalists planned to march through Jerusalem’s historic Old City.
Israel captured east Jerusalem, along with the Old City and its holy sites, in the 1967 Mideast war and later annexed it. The Palestinians seek it as capital of a future independent state.