A delegation from Chad was visiting Israel and ascended to the Temple Mount to pray in the al-Aqsa Mosque. Despite being Muslims, the delegation was criticized by the Palestinians and threatened by Hamas.
A diplomatic delegation from the African country of Chad that included its president, Mahamat Deby, arrived in Israel earlier this week to officially open the African nation’s embassy on Thursday.
After meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on Wednesday, Deby reportedly visited the Western Wall in the evening.
Deby, a Muslim, ascended to the Temple Mount and entered the Aqsa Mosque while accompanied by Israeli police.
In response, Palestinian media criticized the visit. Hamas spokesman Mohammed Hamada described the move as a “great provocation” and a symbol of “the denial of Palestinian people’s rights and the feelings of the families of the martyrs and prisoners”.
Hamada also criticized Deby’s decision to inaugurate Chad’s embassy in Tel Aviv.
Tom Nisani, CEO of Beyadenu, a Temple Mount activist organization, responded to the incident.
“As expected, this provoked the anger of the Jordanians who called the visit of the President of Chad to the Temple Mount an ‘assault on the mosque,” Nisani said in a statement. “This reaction came despite the president being a Muslim. The Waqf claimed that the visit of President Mahmoud Debi to the Temple Mount without their prior knowledge is an ‘official recognition of the sovereignty of the occupation on the Temple Mount’.”
“The Temple Mount is not ‘occupied’,” Nisani added. “Like the IDF Paratroopers declared in 1967, ‘The Temple Mount is in our hands’.”
“It is a great pity that the President of Chad was not accompanied by an official representative of Israel,” Nisanio said. “All honor and respect to the President of Chad!”
The incident stands in contrast to several recent visits to the site by foreign diplomats who coordinated with the Waqf but neglected to coordinate in advance with the Israeli authorities. Last month, approximately 30 diplomats from EU countries, Australia, and Argentina visited the Temple Mount.
After the visit, the UK Consulate in Jerusalem tweeted: “We joined like-minded diplomats at #AlAqsa Mosque to demonstrate support for Jordanian Custodianship of Christian and Muslim holy sites in #Jerusalem. We continue to promote historic Status Quo arrangements which permit all three Abrahamic faiths to worship in the Old City.”
Also last month, Lord Tariq Ahmad, the Minister of Middle East Affairs at the British Foreign Ministry, prayed at the Aqsa Mosque, without coordinating with the Israeli government. He did coordinate with the Waqf. After the visit, he made public statements declaring support for the “Jordanian custodianship.” In meetings with Palestinian officials, he decried Israel’s “occupation” of “Palestine”.
Chad, a Muslim-majority country with a large Arab population, originally established diplomatic ties with Israeli in 1961 but later severed them, along with many other African states, in 1972.
An Israeli ambassador, the first in almost 50 years, arrived in the capital N’Djamena in May last year.