RAMALLAH: Palestinians have decried continuous Israeli attacks on the Bab Al-Rahma Chapel in Al-Aqsa Mosque, claiming that the facility has been destroyed and that worshippers suffer threats and abuse on a regular basis.

According to Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh, Bab Al-Rahma is an intrinsic part of Al-Aqsa and only Muslims have the authority to govern it.

Israel’s removal of objects from the chapel and vandalism of it were both wrong, he stressed.

According to Ramzi Khoury, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, hardline settler organizations erected Israeli flags and performed religious rites in the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque on Wednesday.

He called Israel’s activities “unprecedented aggression against the sanctity of Al-Aqsa, a desecration of its religious status, and a provocation to Muslims all over the world.”

The repeated Israeli attacks on Bab Al-Rahma would not provide Israel control over Al-Aqsa Mosque or Jerusalem, he stressed, because “it is an occupied Palestinian city with Islamic and Christian sanctuaries according to the relevant international legitimacy resolutions.”

Rawhi Fattouh, president of the Palestinian National Council, urged the international community to put a stop to the Israeli government’s “criminal madness” and that of National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.

According to Fattouh, the raids were a gross breach of houses of worship and an attempt to give the conflict a religious flavor, “which would ignite the region and detonate the situation.”

According to Fatah Revolutionary Council member Osama Al-Qawasmi, the “cowardly and provocative attack on Bab Al-Rahma was only part of the systematic Israeli campaign to Judaize Jerusalem.”

The Palestinian presidency’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, claimed Israeli vandalism indicated that the hardline administration was looking for methods to ignite the situation.

“Destructive policies seek to destroy any regional or international effort to provide stability and prevent deterioration of the situation,” he said.

According to Abu Rudeineh, Israel was playing with fire since the chapel was a vital element of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

On Wednesday, Israeli police invaded Bab Al-Rahma for the fourth day in a row amid searches in the area. Previously, cops had turned off the electricity supply and damaged the chapel’s equipment.

After being closed for 16 years by Israeli authorities, Palestinians were able to reopen the Gate of Mercy church in February 2019.

Bab Al-Rahma Chapel was established some 1,300 years ago by the Umayyads as a typical gateway between the Jerusalem Wall and the eastern Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Following Israel’s conquest of Al-Aqsa in 1967, the site fell into disuse. After the Islamic Heritage Committee initiated religious and social activities there in 1992, it had a spectacular resurgence. However, in 2003, Israeli authorities prohibited the celebrations and closed the church completely.

Israeli police have continued to enter the prayer hall wearing shoes for the previous three years. Police have also set up a monitoring station above the chapel, as well as another nearby.

Azzam Al-Khatib, director of the Islamic Waqf Department, which oversees the Al-Aqsa Mosque and is associated with Jordan, told Arab News that Israeli police had been storming Bab Al-Rahma twice or three times a day since Eid Al-Fitr.

“They do not consider it a chapel, but rather a regular location in Al-Aqsa Mosque, and we know the greed of extremists about Al-Aqsa and Bab Al-Rahma,” Al-Khatib explained.

He claimed that Bab Al-Rahma was a part of Al-Aqsa and that Israeli authorities had no authority to meddle in its affairs.

The director of Al-Aqsa Mosque, Omar Al-Kiswani, stated that Israeli authorities had refused to authorize restoration work on the chapel, which was in desperate need of internal and external repairs.

Israeli police often harassed worshippers with deportation threats, bag searches, and confiscation of food and balloons intended for distribution to children.

They also prohibit the use of wooden barriers to separate rows of men and women during prayers and have confiscated shoe racks on numerous occasions, he claims.

Extremist Jews want to transform the chapel into a synagogue, believing that the “awaited messiah” will arrive through Bab Al-Rahma at the end of time. Their dreams were shattered, however, by its recent opening.

According to Al-Kiswani, the intruders were attempting to cut the chapel off from the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

He did, however, say that given the violent Palestinian reaction in the past, Israeli officials are unlikely to close the chapel again.




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here