An Israeli court decision to extend the closure of Bab al-Rahma mosque in the occupied city of East Jerusalem has drawn widespread Palestinian condemnations.
The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Sunday accepted a request by the Israeli attorney-general to extend the closure of the mosque, one of several mosques located in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque complex.
The decision “aims to consolidate the Israeli grip on the whole Al-Aqsa Mosque compound,” the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Jerusalem’s Supreme Muslim Council, for its part, said Israeli courts don’t have any jurisdiction on the Al-Aqsa complex.
In a statement, the council said it did not receive yet any official note about the extension of the mosque closure.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Sheikh Ekrema Sabri, the head of the council, described the court decision as “invalid”.
“We consider that Al-Aqsa Mosque is not subject to any decision issued by Israeli courts,” Sabri said, adding:
We will not abide by any Israeli decision related to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
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.
Sunday’s decision came amid tension in Jerusalem since last month, when Israeli police briefly sealed the Al-Aqsa Mosque’s Rahma 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.