Ankara asks Tel Aviv to take measures to protect holy places and condemns a raid on Islam's third-holiest site by notorious Israeli lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir and his fanatical Jewish supporters.

Under longstanding arrangements known as the
Under longstanding arrangements known as the "status quo," Jews are allowed to visit the Al Aqsa compound but not pray. (Reuters)

Türkiye has called on Israel to take necessary steps to preserve the status quo at the Al Aqsa Mosque complex after Jewish nationalists raided the third-holiest site in Islam that followed thousands of ultranationalist Jews – some of them chanting racist slogans including "Death to Arabs" – parading through the heart of the main Palestinian thoroughfare in occupied East Jerusalem.

"Staging a raid on the Al Aqsa Mosque by Israeli lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir and fanatical Jewish groups under the protection of the Israeli police, and the attempts to worship in this area is a clear violation of the status quo in the Al Aqsa Mosque and Haram Al Sharif," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

"We call on the Israeli government to take the necessary measures to preserve the status quo in the mentioned holy places, and reiterate our call not to allow provocative actions that will escalate tensions in the region," it added.

Türkiye's call came as thousands of Israeli settlers staged a flag march to mark what they call the day of unifying Jerusalem, in reference to Israel's illegal occupation of the city in 1967.

As the march got under way, groups of Orthodox Jewish youths gathered outside Damascus Gate, waving flags, singing religious and nationalistic songs, and shouting "the Jewish nation lives" before entering the Muslim Quarter. One large group chanted "Death to Arabs," and "Let your village burn down" before descending into the Old City.

Police cleared Palestinians out of the area, which is normally a bustling Palestinian thoroughfare. At one point, a drone flying a Palestinian flag flew overhead before police intercepted it.

Ahead of the march, PM Naftali Bennett said that "flying the flag of Israel in the capital of Israel is an obvious thing," but also urged participants to celebrate in a "responsible and respectful manner."

Bennett later issued a statement instructing police to show "no tolerance" toward the racist groups. He described them as a "minority that came to set the area on fire" and vowed to prosecute violent extremists — a step that few Israeli governments have taken in the past.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called the racist groups "a disgrace."

READ MORE: Tensions high as Israelis march in occupied East Jerusalem

Palestine, Jordan condemn Ben-Gvir's visit

Under longstanding arrangements known as the "status quo," Jews are allowed to visit the compound but not pray. In recent years, however, the number of Jewish visitors has grown significantly, including some who have been spotted quietly praying.

Among the visitors was Ben-Gvir, leader of a small ultranationalist opposition party and a follower of the late racist rabbi, Meir Kahane, who entered with dozens of supporters under heavy police guard.

Palestinians shouted "God is great" as Ben-Gvir, accompanied by Israeli police, shouted, "the Jewish people live." Police said they locked the gates of the mosque and said they made 18 arrests.

Nabil Abu Rdeneh, spokesperson for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, accused Israel of "playing with fire irresponsibly and recklessly."

Jordan condemned Ben-Gvir’s visit to the site and warned that the "provocative and escalating march" could make things deteriorate further. Jordan controlled East Jerusalem until Israel captured it in 1967 and it remains the custodian over Muslim holy sites.

Israel captured East Jerusalem, including the Old City, in the 1967 Mideast war. Israel has annexed East Jerusalem in a move that isn't internationally recognised and claims all of the city as its capital. The Palestinians seek East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

READ MORE: Hundreds of Jewish settlers storm Al Aqsa complex in run-up to flag march

Source: AA