Court Orders Temporary Closure of Sha’ar Harachamim Area on Har HaBayis

Sha’ar Rachamim, also called the Golden Gate. (Keren Freeman/Flash90)

A Yerushalayim court on Sunday ordered the closure of the Sha’ar Harachamim area on Har HaBayis. The temporary closure order – which is in effect for 60 days – was granted at the request of the state, after a closed-door session in which the state faced off against lawyers representing the Waqf.

The closure order was given a month after Islamists forced their way into the area, a closed off enclosure that constitutes one of the gates of Har HaBayis, and attempted to establish a mosque there. The site has been closed off for the past 16 years, after security officials determined it was being used by radical Islamists to organize attacks on Israelis. Police attempted to close the area again, with riots ensuing that led to the arrest of over 100 suspects.

Jordan condemned the decision, saying that “East Jerusalem, along with the Al-Aqsa Mosque, are part of Palestinian lands that were conquered in 1967, according to international law. The Israeli legal system has no authority over these areas. The area in question is an important part of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Waqf is the body that is empowered to manage it, under international law. Jordan will consider Israel the responsible party for the dangerous consequences of this decision.” Jordan occupied the area, along with the rest of Yehudah and Shomron, between 1948 and 1967, and has retained responsibility for Har HaBayis, after giving up its interests in the rest of Yehudah and Shomron after signing the 1994 peace treaty with Israel.

On Friday, some 200 Muslims entered the area, smashed doors between it and the Har HaBayis compound, and hung Palestinian flags. Police removed the flags and arrested several of the group.

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