In the wake of the controversial demolition work which is being carried out by Israeli authorities near the holy Al Aqsa Mosque on Tuesday, Palestinian youths are taking to the streets to express their opposition.
Protesting youths were involved in riots in East Jerusalem’s Salah a-Din street and in north Jerusalem’s Shoafat refugee camp. Clashes erupted between Israeli armed forces and stone-throwing youths, consequentially 11 youths were arrested.
On Tuesday morning Israeli bulldozers started demolishing the bridge to the Mugrabi (Moroccan) Gate, one of the main entrances to the Al Aqsa Mosque.
However, Israeli media is now reporting that the permit issued for the works at the Mugrabi site is deemed illegal due to the failure of excavation directors to submit a more detailed plan. The Waqf religious trust claims that leveling the mound will threaten the foundation of the entire al-Aqsa compound, which dates back to the 7th century.
According to Israeli media, last week Jerusalem Comptroller Shulamit Rubin deemed the permit issued for the works at the Mugrabi site illegal and sent a report to all the relevant municipal bodies.
On Monday the ‘City of Peoples’ organization and city council member Peppe Alalo, sent an urgent letter telling the Attorney General Menachem Mazuz stating that the illegality of the excavation was well known by municipal bodies. However, this outcry was ignored.
The Israeli government had recently decided to demolish the mound, citing the need to build a road for Jewish settlers. Ehud Olmert also recently granted permission for a synagogue to be built only 40-50 meters away from the al-Aqsa mosque, on land that was captured from Palestine in the 1967 war.
In the Palestinian community there are concerns that Israel is using the excavation as a ploy to further their policy of ethnically cleansing Palestinians from East Jerusalem, which was captured by Israel in the ’67 conflict.
The plans to build a synagogue very close to the Al Aqsa mosque are causing people to fear that the whole area will gradually be evicted and reconstructed, forcing even more Palestinians to leave after Israeli authorities demolish their homes.
According to Israeli media reports, Meir Ben-Dov, an archeologist who has been directing excavation near the Temple Mount for 39 years stated that there is no need for the current extensive works. He criticised the decision to carry out ‘excavation work’ on the Mugrabi Bridge as being ‘shortsightedness by someone who wants riots, people with no brain.’