19 Jumadal Ula 1439/06 February 2018

The Israeli authorities in January prevented official workers at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque from undertaking any restoration work inside the mosque compound.

“Israeli police forced their way into the office of the Al-Aqsa reconstruction committee and warned engineers against carrying out any mosaic work or restoring the Dome of the Rock’s wooden ceiling,” the spokesperson of Jerusalem’s Religious Endowments (Awqaf) Authority, Firas Al-Dib, said.

“Police have also prohibited any reconstitution work in the Al-Qibli and Marwani mosques [both of which are located in the Al-Aqsa compound],” Al-Dib added.

The police officer also informed them that the Awqaf deputy director of construction projects Taha Awidah will be arrested if employees conduct maintenance works at the site. The police gave no reason to this order.

The Awqaf also accused the Israeli authorities of deliberately keeping the Dome of the Rock Mosque in darkness.

“The Israeli occupation authorities aren’t allowing the necessary equipment into the mosque compound, so we can’t fix the power outage,” a statement read.

The Israeli police, it added, were actively hindering Jordanian initiatives aimed at preserving the Islamic identity of Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, in which the Dome of the Rock (Qubbat al-Sakhrah in Arabic) is located.

The Israeli move was condemned by the Jordanian government.

State Minister for Media Affairs Mohammad Momani said that the mosque’s entire compound is within the jurisdiction of Jerusalem Awqaf Department, which is affiliated with Jordan Awqaf Ministry, according to the international law and the international humanitarian law.

Momani, who is also the government’s spokesperson, stressed that the Israeli occupation authorities should not interfere in the maintenance and reconstruction works at the Muslim shrine.

The minster voiced Jordan’s absolute rejection of such provocative acts, stressing the Kingdom’s determination to honour its responsibilities of defending the Muslim and Christian holy places in Jerusalem in its capacity as the custodian of the holy places in the Old City.

Staff of the Jordan-run Islamic Awqaf department subsequently organized a protest against Israeli interference in Al-Aqsa Mosque’s maintenance work, of which they are in charge.

Sheikh Omar Kiswani, head of Masjid Al-Aqsa said during the protest that the decision is unfair and pointless. He said this is the duty and the right of the Islamic Awqaf to maintain the mosque and anything else is considered a violation.