Ben-Gvir’s Temple Mount Visit Incites Failed Rocket Attack

A rocket aimed at Israel from Gaza fell within the Strip well short of its target in Israel on Tuesday night. Hamas had threatened retaliation toward Israel should new Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir visit the Temple Mount, which he did earlier in the day. The U.S. criticized the visit in advance as well, though it turned out to be uneventful. Hamas initially said Ben-Gvir was a “fascist Zionist” whose presence at the Mount would essentially be a “declaration of war” that it would meet with rocket fire, but it seemed to soften its stance a bit after the visit. Neither Hamas nor any other terror group has taken credit for the launch, though the failure of the attack may explain why its perpetrators have kept quiet on the matter.

Ben-Gvir’s far-right, ultra-nationalist standing has landed him in hot water in the past, having been accused of hate speech and even charged with incitement to racism against Arabs. His visit to the Temple Mount only reinforces his reputation as a provocateur. Many leading Israeli voices have warned him against ascending the Mount, noting that the rabbinate prohibits visiting any part of the Mount because the site’s precise boundaries are unclear. 

This visit came with consequences. Even though the attack failed, Ben-Gvir’s visit led to rocket fire aimed at Israel. He might not make for a good face for Netanyahu’s administration or Israel as a whole, but his visit supports an important message: Jewish people should not be so severely barred from the site they consider most holy. No doubt Ben-Gvir will continue to provoke, but hopefully this instance will help Jewish people move a bit more freely around the Temple Mount.