Hamas: Israel declaring war on Muslim holy sites with closure of Jerusalem bridge
Wooden ramp leading from Western Wall Plaza to Temple Mount and Al-Aqsa mosque closed due to concerns it may collapse; Hamas condemns move as 'Zionist aggression.'
A Hamas spokesman said Monday that the closure of Jerusalem's Mughrabi Bridge, which leads from the Western Wall Plaza to the Temple Mount, is an attack against Muslim holy sites, AFP reported.
"This is a serious step that shows the Zionist scheme of aggression again the Al Aqsa mosque," Fawzi Barhum told AFP.
"This is a violent act that amounts to a declaration of religious war on the Muslim holy places in Jerusalem."
The Jerusalem Municipality ordered the closure of the wooden bridge due to fears it may collapse or catch fire. There are 15 gates leading into the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, 10 of which are in use.
The Mughrabi Gate is the only access for non-Muslims to enter the site, meaning its closure will prevent both Jews and tourists from visiting until a replacement structure is built.
The wooden bridge leading to the Temple Mount and Al-Aqsa was scheduled to be demolished and replaced with a sturdier structure, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the Jerusalem municipality two weeks ago to postpone the demolition.
Netanyahu's bureau had asked the Jerusalem municipality to postpone the work due to the sensitivity of the issue and warnings from Egypt and Jordan.
The holy compound is in the old walled city of Jerusalem, an area Israel captured along with the West Bank in a 1967 war and annexed in a step that has not won international recognition. Palestinians want the area to be part of a state they intend to create in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Jews revere the compound as the site of their Biblical Temple, destroyed by Roman troops in the 1st century. Surviving foundations of its Western Wall are now a focus of prayer.
For Muslims, who captured Jerusalem from the Christian Byzantines in the 7th century, the Dome of the Rock marks the spot from which Mohammad made his night journey to heaven.