Jerusalem city hall orders halt to illegal Waqf construction on Temple Mount

Injunction issued after authorities determine project for extra restrooms at complex does not have proper permits

Muslims pray on the Temple Mount at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, July 28, 2014. (Sliman Khader/Flash90)
Muslims pray on the Temple Mount at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, July 28, 2014. (Sliman Khader/Flash90)

The Jerusalem Municipality on Tuesday ordered a halt to illegal construction taking place outside of the fence surrounding Jerusalem’s flashpoint Temple Mount holy site.

The administrative order was issued after authorities determined the construction of additional restrooms at the complex has begun without the proper permits, a municipality statement said.

According to reports, the project was initiated by the Muslim Waqf — the Jordanian trust that administers the site — to accommodate the tens of thousands of Muslim worshipers expected to visit the compound during the upcoming Ramadan holiday.

Army Radio said the municipality has pledged to install portable toilets in the Temple Mount area for the month-long holiday. The bathrooms will be erected in coordination with Jordanian authorities, according to the report.

Last week, a Channel 10 report said the Israel Antiquities Authority had filed a lawsuit against the Waqf for building the bathrooms in an archaeological site within the Temple Mount complex.

The Antonia Fortress, which is believed to date from at least 31 BCE, sits atop the Western Wall tunnels sparking fears that sewage from the restroom will seep into the structures below, the report said.

The suit also includes IAA opposition to a Waqf plan to break through one of the walls on the Temple Mount itself.

Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, the site of the first and second Jewish temples and home to Islam’s third-holiest shrine, has been at the heart of months-long unrest and violence.

Clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian rioters erupted last year at the compound amid fears that Israel was planning to change rules governing the site which allows Jews to visit the site but not pray there.

Israel has repeatedly denied such plans are in the works.

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