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Jordan: Al-Rahma gate “integral part” of Al-Aqsa

Palestinians perform prayer in front of Al-Rahma Gate (Gate of Mercy) of Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound, as Israeli security forces stand guard behind them after Al-Rahma Gate was chained by Israeli police in Jerusalem on 22 February 2019 [Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Anadolu Agency]

Al-Rahma gate is an “integral, non-negotiable and non-shareable part” of the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jordan’s Ministry of Awqaf (endowment) and Islamic Affairs warned yesterday.

The ministry said that the “Israeli escalations” against the Muslim Waqf (Endowment) Council in Jerusalem was “an intimidation of the Awqaf Council members and direct targeting of the Hashemite (Jordanian) guardianship of Islamic and Christian holy sites.”

Israeli police yesterday banned Sheikh Abdul Azi Salhab, the head of the Jerusalem’s Waqf council, and Sheikh Najeh Bkerat, the deputy director of Muslim Endowments and Al-Aqsa Affairs, from entering Al-Aqsa compound for 40 days. The occupation police also banned a mosque guard, Arafat Najib, from entering the holy site for six months.

The Jordanian Awqaf and Islamic affairs minister, Abdul Nasser Abul Bassal, described the Israeli measures as “a new escalation aimed at impeding the work of the Jerusalem Awqaf and intimidating the members of the council, which the Jordanian Cabinet has recently restructured.”

“The Israeli barring of awqaf officials as a tool to pressure the council to interfere in Al Aqsa Mosque affairs is unacceptable,” Abdul Bassal stressed.

Last week, Abul Bassal called on the Jerusalem Awqaf “to study the best possible means of utilising the Al-Rahma gate with the aim of keeping it permanently open.”

In a similar move, the Israeli police arrested Al-Aqsa guard Mohamed Al-Salhi while he was exiting the holy mosque from Al-Silsila gate.