Israel closes access ramp to Al-Aqsa compound | Pakistan Today

Israel closes access ramp to Al-Aqsa compound

Israel has closed a controversial wooden access ramp to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound over public safety concerns, police said on Monday, in a move that quickly sparked Palestinian anger. “Based on an order from the city council, they have closed the ramp,” police spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP, referring to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation responsible for the upkeep of the Mughrabi ramp.
The ramp was closed just three days before a deadline imposed by the Jerusalem city council, which had threatened to enforce a closure order if the Foundation failed to close off the structure because of fears it could collapse.
“The police and the Western Wall Heritage Foundation decided yesterday to close the temporary Mughrabi ramp,” municipal spokesman Stephan Miller told AFP. “This follows a letter from the municipality that expressed the concern and gave the foundation seven days to appeal against the order,” he said.
The city says the ramp poses a fire hazard and could collapse onto the women’s prayer section by the Western Wall. But Muslim leaders fear the demolition could have a destabilising effect on the mosque compound and accuses Israel of failing to coordinate the renovation with the Waqf, which oversees Islamic heritage sites.
The closure prompted a swift and angry response from Palestinian officials, including Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas. “We condemn and reject this Israeli escalation and we believe that these practices, whether in Jerusalem, the closure of the Mughrabi gate, settler attacks or the decision to build 40 new settlement homes confirm Israel’s attacks… on the efforts of the Quartet to revive the peace process,” he said.
“These practices create a negative atmosphere in the entire region that could plunge the area into turmoil and tension,” he warned. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum strongly condemned the closure, saying it was an attack against sacred Muslim sites. “This is a serious step that shows the Zionist scheme of aggression again the Al Aqsa mosque,” he told AFP.
“This is a violent act that amounts to a declaration of religious war on the Muslim holy places in Jerusalem.” There are 15 gates leading into the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, 10 of which are in use. The Mughrabi Gate is the only access for non-Muslims to enter the site, meaning its closure will prevent both Jews and tourists from visiting until a replacement structure is built.

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