The Israeli occupation authorities started work on a new multipurpose museum project near the western wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Wednesday, Quds Press has reported. Known to Jews as the “Western (or Wailing) Wall” and to Muslims as the “Buraq Wall”, the museum is being built in East Jerusalem and so has the same illegal status in international law as Israeli settlements scattered all over the occupied city and West Bank.
The government-supervised Museum of Beit HaLiba is said to include cinema screening rooms, a library for tourists, a tourism information centre and a police station.
According to one Palestinian specialist in Jerusalem affairs, the occupation authorities are working to change the identity of the holy city. The museum, Jamal Amro pointed out, is being built on the ruins of a Muslim neighbourhood. “Israel’s new settlement projects like this are trying to create different tourist routes which guarantee that foreign visitors do not see the Islamic sites in Jerusalem,” he explained. “Tourists will only be shown around Jewish synagogues and tunnels.”
Amro warned of many similar settlement projects that the occupation authorities could start near Al-Aqsa Mosque. He noted that the Israeli-controlled municipality of Jerusalem has announced 50 settlement projects since the US recognition of the city as Israel’s capital in December.
Last June, the Israeli government approved a budget to build and develop Al-Buraq Plaza. That particular scheme includes an archaeological dig, improved transportation facilities and cultural activities for Jewish students and soldiers.