The Old City of Jerusalem - CC via wikipedia
CAIRO –25 July 2017: Al-Aqsa Mosque is a silver-domed mosque located inside a compound within the Old City of Jerusalem and includes four minarets. The religiously significant compound has been recognized by the United Nation Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a World Heritage site.
Muslims refer to the al-Aqsa compound as al-Haram al-Sharif or the Noble Sanctuary. It is considered to be the third holiest Muslim site. Meanwhile, Jews refer to the compound as the Temple Mount, as they believe that the Biblical Jewish temples once stood there. It is an important site for Jews, Christians and Muslims.
The compound includes several religious symbols, such as Al-Buraq Wall, the Church of the Resurrection, the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque.
The area of the Old City of Jerusalem is 900 dunums (one dunum is 1,000 square meters), and al-Aqsa Mosque occupies about one-sixth of the Old City area with about 144 dunums. It contains several religious symbols, such as Al-Buraq Wall (the wall where Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammed tied the winged riding animal upon which he rode during the Night of Ascension), the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque.
The mosque has a semi-rectangular shape; its western side is 491 meters long, the east is 462 meters, the north is 310 meters, and the south is 281 meters. The mosque has 14 gates along its walls, of which four are closed, while the Old City has 11 gates, including seven open gates.
Al-Aqsa Mosque Open Gates:
Gate of the Tribes (Bab al-Asbat)
The Gate of Remission (Bab al-Huttah)
King Faisal Gate (Bab al-Atim)
Gate of Bani Ghanim (Bab al-Ghawanima)
The Iron Gate
Qatanin Gate (Bab Al-Qatanin)
Al-Aqsa is just a small area within Palestine, but it holds the symbolic value of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. It represents the injustice and oppression faced by Palestinians in Jerusalem on a daily basis.
The United Nations (UN) separated the historic land of Palestine, in 1947,into areas where 55 percent of it would be for Jews and the remaining 45 percent for Palestinians. Jerusalem, including the al-Aqsa compound, has remained under UN administration due to its importance to the three religions.
Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, Israel captured 78 percent of the land. The remaining areas of the West Bank and East Jerusalem became under the Jordanian administration, while the Gaza Strip was administrated by Egypt.
After the second Arab-Israeli war in 1967, Israel occupied East Jerusalem, including the al-Aqsa compound, violating international law. In 1980, Israel passed a law stating that Jerusalem is the complete and united capital of Israel, which also violates international law. Israel continuously tries to lobby countries to establish their embassies in Jerusalem as an attempt to obtain international recognition of the city as the Israeli capital. However, no country in the world recognizes these attempts to change the geography and demographic makeup of the holy city.
Jordan and Israel agreed that the inside administration of the al-Aqsa compound is the responsibility of the Waqf (Islamic trust) and that non-Muslims would be allowed into the site during visiting hours, but would not be allowed to pray there. This was called the status-quo situation.
Rising Israeli Temple movements that continuously try to enter the compound raise Palestinian fears of Israeli intentions to take control over the compound. These attempts have led to clashes between Israeli forces and the Palestinians trying to defend al-Aqsa Mosque and the compound.
Israel has built at least 12 illegal settlements in East Jerusalem, housing some 200,000 Israelis. At the same time, it rejects Palestinian building permits and demolishes their homes as punishment for building illegally.
The Palestinian population in Jerusalem is around 400,000. They only hold permanent residency status, not citizenship, despite being born there. Since 1967, Israel has deported some Palestinians from the city by imposing difficult conditions on them in order to maintain their residency status.
Two weeks ago, the Israeli forces closed al-Aqsa Mosque after killing three Palestinians within the compound. The forces also installed metal detectors at the entrances of the mosque, which Palestinian worshippers rejected and are still protesting against by praying in the streets near the mosque until Israel refrains from these alleged security measures.
These provocative actions led to clashes and confrontations between Palestinians and the Israeli occupation army in the city of Jerusalem, which Palestinians consider their eternal and only capital.
Furthermore, on Monday, settlers requested the Israeli government to raise the Israeli flag over al-Aqsa Mosque. The Palestinian National Authority on Friday suspended all official contacts with the Israeli authorities, including the security coordination.
Leave a Comment