Work started on Tuesday on the construction of a seven-storey building adjacent to the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa. The land next to the Magharbeh Gate into the sanctuary is owned by the Palestinian Siyam family, whose members live in the area.
The Israeli Antiquities Authority seized the land in preparation for the building of the “Kideem Centre” on it. When workers turned up on Monday local Palestinians tried to block their progress by placing metal plates around the site. On Tuesday the workers were protected by Israeli security forces.
The land was opened-up to the public several years ago but the Siyam family are still the official owners. It leads directly to Al-Aqsa Mosque via the Magharbeh Gate.
According to the officers in charge of the Israel security forces on the site, the builders have all the necessary licences to work there. However, when local residents asked to see the licences the builders refused to show them.
The Kideem Centre will be an Israeli social facility covering a total area of 3,000 square metres.