Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant issued a stern warning against turning the Islamic holiday of Ramadan into a jihad, amidst the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.

In a statement released at the onset of Ramadan, Gallant extended peaceful wishes to Muslim worshippers but emphasized Israel’s readiness to counter any acts of terrorism linked to the month-long observance.

“We are aware that the month of Ramadan may be a month of jihad. We tell everyone who is thinking of trying us: We are ready; don’t make mistakes. I want to bless you and say to everyone, the State of Israel respects freedom of religion, at Al-Aqsa and all holy sites,” Gallant said.

This year, the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas war has cast a shadow over the holy month, with concerns internationally over the potential for the conflict to exacerbate. U.S. President Joe Biden, among others, has voiced apprehensions regarding the continuation of hostilities into Ramadan, highlighting failed efforts to secure a ceasefire and the release of Israeli hostages held in Gaza before the holiday’s start.

Ramadan, a sacred month in the Islamic calendar marked by daily fasting from dawn until sunset, commenced on Sunday evening as declared by Saudi Arabia, the custodian of Islam’s two holiest sites.

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