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Israel orders closure of Al-Aqsa's Rahma gate

March 17, 2019 at 1:48 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 22 February 2019 [Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Anadolu Agency]

An Israeli court on Sunday ordered the closure of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound’s Rahma Gate in East Jerusalem, according to local media.

The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court accepted a request by the Israeli attorney-general to renew the closure of the mosque, one of several mosques located in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque complex.

The Bab al-Rahma Mosque was first closed by the Israeli authorities in 2003. In 2017, an Israeli court renewed the closure order.

In mid-February, Jerusalem’s Religious Endowments Authority (a Jordan-run agency mandated with overseeing the city’s Islamic and Christian holy sites) reopened the mosque following Palestinian protests.

The Israeli court’s decision quickly drew fire from Jordan, which is responsible for Jerusalem’s Islamic and Christian holy sites, saying it rejects any “prejudice to its historical situation”.

“East Jerusalem, including Al-Aqsa Mosque, is part of the Palestinian land occupied in 1967 and it does not fall within the jurisdiction of the Israeli judiciary under international law,” the Jordanian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

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Jordan demanded Israel revoke the decision and held it totally responsible for any serious consequences of the verdict.

Sunday’s ruling came amid tension in Jerusalem since last month, when Israeli police briefly sealed the gate, sparking angry Palestinian demonstrations.

In the weeks since, the Israeli authorities have banned scores of Palestinians – including religious officials – from entering the Al-Aqsa, which for Muslims represents the world’s third holiest site.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, in which the Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.

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