Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid on Monday slammed far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in occupied East Jerusalem.
The far-right official forced his way into the flashpoint site early Sunday under Israeli police protection, in the second such visit since he joined the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu late last year.
Ben-Gvir then claimed Israel's ownership of the complex in a video message from the mosque's courtyard.
"His duty is to ease the tension, but Ben-Gvir creates provocation instead," Lapid, the head of Yesh Atid (There is a Future) Party, told Israeli Army Radio.
Describing Ben-Gvir as Israel’s most controversial politician, Lapid, a former prime minister, said Ben-Gvir is “an irresponsible and fanatical man" who should not have been allowed to become a national security minister.
Ben-Gvir holds far-right views on the Palestinians and has called for their displacement. He has repeatedly joined Israeli settlers in storming the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in East Jerusalem.
Last November, Israeli President Isaac Herzog warned in a leaked audio that "the whole world is worried" about Ben-Gvir’s far-right views.
Israel has allowed settlers into the Al-Aqsa complex almost on a daily basis since 2003 with the exception of Fridays and Saturdays.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents Islam’s third-holiest site. Jews call the area the Temple Mount, saying it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980, in a move never recognized by the international community.