Palestinians call for resuming protests over Temple Mount building

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Last year, Palestinians reopened the building’s prayer hall to Muslim worshipers for the first time in 16 years, triggering a standoff with the Israeli security forces that ended in its re-closure.

Palestinians are threatening to resume protests over the continued closure of the Bab al-Rahma (Golden Gate or Gate of Mercy) building at al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem.Last year, Palestinians reopened the building’s prayer hall to Muslim worshipers for the first time in 16 years, triggering a standoff with the Israeli security forces that ended in its re-closure.

Israeli authorities closed the site in 2003 on the grounds it was being used by the Islamic Movement in Israel’s northern branch and Hamas supporters for political activities.

Last week, the Jerusalem Police petitioned the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court requesting the extension of Bab al-Rahma, explaining that the move was necessary because of solid evidence that it was being used for Hamas activities and as a base for the terrorist group on the Temple Mount.

Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, head of the Supreme Islamic Authority and former mufti of Jerusalem, on Tuesday accused Israel of exploiting the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic to keep Bab al-Rahma closed to Muslim worshipers.

Sabri said that Israeli courts have no jurisdiction over al-Aqsa Mosque compound and claimed that Israel was planning to turn Bab al-Rahma into a synagogue. He called for “immediate action on the popular, local, regional and international levels” to prevent Israel from carrying out its purported scheme.

In a joint statement, representatives of several Islamic religious institutions in Jerusalem warned against the repercussions of the continued closure of Bab al-Rahma.

“We hold the right-wing Israeli government fully responsible for any harm to the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque,” the institutions said in their statement. “Bab al-Rahma and its prayer hall are an integral part of the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque, which belongs exclusively to Muslims. Muslims do not recognize Israeli occupation courts and their rulings.”

In response to the Jerusalem Police request to keep Bab al-Rahma closed, Hamas warned that “any harm to al-Aqsa Mosque would ignite war” in which Israel would pay a price “with blood and soul.”

Hamas called on Palestinians to foil Israel’s actions in Jerusalem. “This dangerous plan will not pass and our people in Jerusalem won’t allow it to pass,” Hamas cautioned, urging Palestinians to converge on the holy site in Jerusalem “to stop the occupation plans to turn Bab al-Rahma into a synagogue.”

Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), another Gaza-based terrorist group, also called on Palestinians to protest the closure of the site. “The Israeli decision to close Bab al-Rahma falls in the context of the war declared against our people and their holy sites in Jerusalem,” PIJ said in a statement.

Source: The article is written by Khaled Abu Toameh and published on The Jerusalem Post, along with the cover photo, captioned as: A general view of Jerusalem as seen from the Mount of Olives shows the Dome of the Rock, located in Jerusalem's Old City on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, June 21, 2018 (photo credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD).

 

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