The Israeli authorities have a long history of implementing more than a few actions to change the status quo in occupied Jerusalem.
Israel closes gate of Al-Aqsa Mosque to convert into Synagogue. Al-Aqsa compound is an historic flash point in the Palestinian cause. A few days ago, an Israeli court issued an order to close the Gate of Mercy or Alrahma Gate. This decision immediately rose tensions with Palestinians.
Grand Mufti of Al-Aqsa mosque Ikrima Sabri pointed out that the occupation demands a permanent closure to the Gate of Mercy in order to convert the building into a synagogue. Several Israeli extremist groups, particularly the alleged “temple groups,” clearly call to establish a synagogue in the eastern region of Alaqsa Mosque.
The Al-Rahma Gate is a big building that lays to the east of the Al-Aqsa. 16 years after the Israeli authorities sealed the building in 2003, it reopened In 2019. The Palestinian worshipers and activists were able to break the seal off imposed on it. Tension rose and Confrontations erupted between Palestinians and Israelis forces following Opening it.
The Islamic Council in Jerusalem issued a statement last week. They affirm that the Gate of Mercy is an integral part of the sacred Al-Aqsa compound, and it is only for Muslims. The occupation authorities have nothing to do with the Gate of Mercy or cannot issue any rules regarding it according to the international laws, the council stated.
The Islamic Council affirmed that “the Islamic Endowments Department in Jerusalem does not report to the occupation courts because these courts are not competent, as the area is occupied since June 1967 by the Israeli occupation.”
Violating the Freedom of Worship
The council considers that these occupation decisions violate the freedom of worship, as well as violate international laws and customs. As for the reasoning behind the occupation’s repeated attempts to control the Gate of Mercy, Jamal Amr, a specialist in Jerusalem affairs has clear points.
He says that the gate is 1) of great importance, 2) its location in the heart of Al-Aqsa, and 3) it represents the only option where worshipers and others can potentially enter and exit the Al-Aqsa compound without first moving through Muslim Old Town in Jerusalem.
Najih Bkirat, deputy head of the Islamic Council known as Waqf, states during a special interview. “The extremists see in the Gate of Mercy a lifeline to the ‘alleged structure’ and the first step towards achieving this, as it is the closest door to the Dome of the Rock.” He points out the presence of approximately 26 extremist Jewish organizations in Jerusalem, all pressing for control of the Gate of Mercy.
It is considered the heart of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and an introduction to control of the entire Al-Aqsa compound. Analysts say that if the Israeli authorities try to implement this decision, a new cycle of violence will erupt in the region and it may turn into war as some Palestinian factions threatened the occupation.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War that was between Arab and Israel. It annexed the entire city in 1980, and on December 2019 US president Donald Trump announced the United states recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state. This move has never been recognized by the international community.