By Israel Hayom—
Tensions continued to bubble Monday on the Temple Mount after the Gate of Mercy structure near Al-Aqsa mosque was certified as another mosque, with silent agreement from Israel – despite official denials issued by Israeli authorities.
Government officials said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued an order to remove equipment from the site and disallow prayer there.
The structure was recently fitted with rugs and other furnishings along with renovations. Eran Tzidkiyahu of the Forum for Regional Thinking visited the site on Monday and assessed that it would soon be used as a permanent prayer area for Muslims.
Meanwhile, the Islamic authority that oversees Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, known as the waqf, announced it has already appointed an imam for the Gate of Mercy structure and that its status would be identical to other sites of worship on the Temple Mount.
Israeli police on Sunday arrested the head of waqf authority, Sheikh Abdelazeem Salhab, and other waqf leaders, following violent protests last week on the Temple Mount. Salhab, who was released shortly after his arrest and barred from the area for one week, was appointed by neighboring Jordan.
From one mosque to five
If Israel does not act to reverse the trend, the number of mosques at the Temple Mount compound will stand at five. Some 52 years ago, immediately following the Six-Day War, there was only one mosque, Al-Aqsa mosque. Over time, the Dome of the Rock was also certified as a mosque and mostly serves Muslim women on Fridays. In the 1990s, two other mosques were certified, but underground: the Gate of Mercy area, which some Muslims in recent days have hailed as the “fifth mosque,” was shut down by Israel in 2005 after a Hamas-linked group carried out activities there. Continue Reading…