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Everything you want to know about Al-Rahma Gate and the construction of a temple in Al-Aqsa

February 22, 2019 at 1:56 pm

Palestinians perform prayer in front of Al-Rahma Gate (Gate of Mercy) of Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound, as Israeli security forces stand guard behind them after Al-Rahma Gate was chained by Israeli police in Jerusalem on 20 February 2019 [Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Anadolu Agency]

The events that broke out yesterday at Al-Aqsa Mosque, in light of the occupation chaining Al-Rahma Gate closed, were only a natural result of the successive measures taken by the occupation to Judaise Al-Aqsa. It did so by taking control of Al-Rahma Gate and building a temple in the eastern area of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

First, Al-Rahma Gate is the biggest and most beautiful gate of Al-Aqsa Mosque (Westerners call it the Golden Gate). The word “gate” may be misleading, as it is actually a small building after it had been a main gate leading to Al-Aqsa used by the Umayyads.

The gate was closed from the outside with stones in an effort to control those entering Al-Aqsa through it. All of the doors that lead straight outside of Jerusalem were closed.

Second, the Israelis are working to gradually control Al-Aqsa, not to destroy it, as most people think. They take small steps to test the waters, and if the Muslims’ reaction is minimal, they take another step, and if it is violent, they stop and wait until the situation calms down.

READ: Israel closes gate to Al-Aqsa Mosque

Third, after the occupation seized control of the western wall of Al-Aqsa, Al-Buraq Wall in 1967, it set its sights on the southern and eastern sides of Al-Aqsa.

On the southern side parallel to Al-Aqsa, excavations were conducted in search of the remains of a temple, but they found Umayyad castles. Despite the fact that these are Islamic ruins, they took control of them and are making changes to them to give them a Jewish character.

On the eastern side, they planned to control the El-Marwani Mosque, which is located underground and fits 5,000 worshipers. However, the Islamic Movement renovated it in 1996 and plans to seize it were thwarted.

Fourth, Al-Rahma Gate and the eastern courtyard of Al-Aqsa is located near the El-Marwani Mosque and it was the next target.

Fifth, the Zakat Al-Quds Committee’s headquarters was located inside the Al-Rahma Gate building, but the occupation police forces shut it down in 2003 under the pretext of it funding terrorism. The building remains closed and vacant.

READ: Settlers join Israel agriculture minister to storm Al-Aqsa Mosque

Sixth, a small hill formed near Al-Rahma Gate due to the dirt and waste removed from El-Marwani Mosque in 1996, which is now known as the Al-Rahma Gate Hill.

The occupation has not allowed the removal of this dust and waste from Al-Aqsa, nor has it allowed any works or clean up to take place in it. The youth from the Islamic movement tried to clean the area during the Jerusalem Intifada, but the occupation prevented them from doing so.

Last Ramadan, the worshippers cleaned up Al-Rahma Gate hill and carried out simple works, turning it into a place suitable to sit and pray in. The Israeli police destroyed it, along with all of the paths and seats.

Seventh, in recent months, the Israeli raiders have been holding silent biblical prayers when they arrive at the Al-Rahma Gate area, and at the same time, the occupation forces are preventing Muslims from being there.

Israeli police officers are seen in front of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on 14 January 2019 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli police officers are seen in front of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on 14 January 2019 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

On more than one occasion, the police arrested members of the Murabitoun group and Muslim worshippers on charges of sitting in the Al-Rahma Gate area.

Eighth, there have been Israeli plans and proposals announced several times to build a temple in Al-Aqsa’s eastern courtyard (near Al-Rahma Gate).

Ninth, according to the claims of some Jewish groups, Christ will enter Al-Aqsa Mosque from Al-Rahma Gate and rebuild their alleged temple.

Tenth, the Al-Rahma Gate cemetery is located right outside Al-Rahma Gate and it is the largest Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem. Occupation forces took over part of it and demolished graves in preparation for the construction of plans to Judaise the area by installing cable cars that travel between At-Tur Mountain (Mount of Olives) to Al-Rahma Gate and will annex the area to the Judaic paths in Jerusalem.

READ: When is visiting Al-Aqsa considered normalisation?

Settlers have recently stormed Al-Rahma Gate cemetery and performed public prayers in it.

Finally, the Israeli police took the step of placing the locks on the Al-Rahma Gate despite the fact that the building was closed for years in order to take one step closer to Judaising the area and taking it over. It aims to make fundamental changes in it in order to build their temple and then turn the entire Al-Aqsa Mosque into their alleged Temple Mount.

This will happen unless there is complete Islamic awareness and thwarting of the occupation’s plans.

I have not forgotten to mention the collusive role of the Jordanian Awqaf with the occupation, which is silent in the face of all of these measures and only remembers to issue statements of condemnation after the Murabitoun challenge the occupation and engage in confrontations.

This article first appeared in Arabic in the Palestinian Information Centre on 22 February 2019

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.