Palestinians rip doors off disputed building on Temple Mount
search

Palestinians rip doors off disputed building on Temple Mount

Protesters also raise national flag over the Gate of Mercy amid soaring tensions over access to shuttered mosque

Palestinians break a door of the Gate of Mercy on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City on March 15, 2019. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)
Palestinians break a door of the Gate of Mercy on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City on March 15, 2019. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

Palestinian worshipers on Friday ripped the doors off a building on the Temple Mount complex at the heart of recent tensions between Israeli security forces and the Islamic Waqf, which acts as the custodian of the volatile holy site on behalf of Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinian protesters removed the doors of the Gate of Mercy, or Bab al-Rahma, after Friday prayers, despite instructions from the Waqf, the Temple Mount custodian and the head sheikh, all of whom had urged calm.

A group of protesters also raised the Palestinian flag on the roof of the building, and it was then removed by police, according to the Haaretz daily.

The Gate of Mercy was sealed by Israeli authorities in 2003 because the group managing the area had ties to Hamas, and it has been kept closed to stop illegal construction work there by the Waqf.

A girl walks past a door broken off the Gate of Mercy by Palestinians at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City on March 15, 2019. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

Israeli officials believe the work carried out by the Waqf, which refused to allow any Israeli observers, has led to the destruction of antiquities from periods of Jewish presence in the area.

The Waqf has repeatedly challenged the closure, convening and staging prayer-protests in the area that often erupted into clashes with police.

Last month, the Waqf reopened the site and Palestinian worshipers have begun to use it as a mosque, despite Israeli attempts to keep the area sealed.

Since then, several low-level clashes have broken out between Palestinian worshipers and Israeli security forces. On Thursday, police sealed off the entire Temple Mount after a firebomb was thrown at an officer.

High-level Israeli and Jordanian officials have been holding talks in the hope of defusing the situation. Last week, Israeli officials traveled to Jordan for meetings, and Jordanian officials have also visited Jerusalem, according to Israeli reports.

An Israeli policeman holds back a Palestinian woman outside the Old City in Jerusalem after police closed the entrance to al-Aqsa mosque compound on the Temple Mount following a firebomb attack on a police post at the site, on March 12, 2019. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

The talks were ongoing and the sides have yet to come to an agreement, the Haaretz daily reported this week.

Jordan has suggested that the site be closed for long-term renovations. While the Israelis agree, they insist it must first be closed without renovations taking place, as a statement of Israeli authority. This disagreement has reportedly stood in the way of a deal.

The Associated Press and Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

read more:
less
comments
more