Israel court orders closure of building at Jerusalem holy site

The Golden Gate at Al-Aqsa mosque is known as the Temple Mount by Jews. (AFP/File)
Updated 17 March 2019
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Israel court orders closure of building at Jerusalem holy site

  • Waqf religious organization has 60 days to respond to the court’s decision
  • Palestinians entered the site despite it being closed by Israeli forces

JERUSALEM: An Israeli court on Sunday ordered the temporary closure of a side building at a highly sensitive Jerusalem holy site that has been the source of tensions in recent weeks.

The Jerusalem magistrates court said the building known as the Golden Gate at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, should be closed while the case continues.

The site’s administrator, the Waqf religious organization, was given 60 days to respond to the court case involving the building.

Israeli police have called for the building to be closed.

There are believed to be discussions ongoing between Israel and Jordan, the custodian of the holy site, over the status of the building.

There have in recent weeks been scuffles between worshippers and Israeli police at the site in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem over the use of the side building.

Palestinian worshippers have been entering the site despite an Israeli order that it should stay closed.

Israel shut access to the Golden Gate in 2003 during the second Palestinian intifada over alleged militant activity there.

Palestinian officials argue that the organization that prompted the ban no longer exists and there is no reason for it to remain closed.

The larger compound is the third-holiest site in Islam and a focus of Palestinian aspirations for statehood.

It is also the location of Judaism’s most sacred spot, revered as the site of the two biblical-era Jewish temples.

Jews are allowed to visit but cannot pray there and it is a frequent scene of tension.


Drug-related crimes wreak havoc on Egyptian streets

A youth holds a narcotic cigarette in Cairo. (Reuters)
Updated 16 min 54 sec ago
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Drug-related crimes wreak havoc on Egyptian streets

  • Al-Saeed claimed that criminals addicted to drugs often “do not know what they are doing,” particularly if, at the time of the crime, their body “needs the drug”

CAIRO: Last week, a drug addict in northern Giza killed four people and injured others following a domestic dispute.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that the conductor who left his railcar without switching off its engine to fight with a colleague whose truck was blocking the way, ultimately causing the crash that left more than 25 dead at Cairo’s Ramses Station on Feb. 27, had previously been suspended for drug use.
These are just two examples of an increase in drug-related incidents in Egypt that has prompted President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to introduce a law requiring employers to fire drug users.
The most recent statistics from Egypt’s Fund for Drug Control and Treatment of Addiction revealed that 10 percent of Egypt’s over 100 million inhabitants use drugs — twice the global average. Those statistics also revealed that 24 percent of drug users are drivers and 20 percent are manual workers, and that drug use is most prevalent among those in their twenties.
Talking to Arab News, psychiatrist and doctor Salmi Al-Saeed said: “Most of the recent criminal incidents in Egypt, whose causes at first appear to be strange and unnatural, are found to be caused by drug addicts.”
Al-Saeed claimed that criminals addicted to drugs often “do not know what they are doing,” particularly if, at the time of the crime, their body “needs the drug.”
Rifaat Abdel Hamid, a security expert, said that drugs — whether synthetic or natural — can make a person “consider everything is permissible.”
Abdel Hamid said: “People who take drugs commit crimes, (regardless of) whether they are educated or illiterate, rich or poor.”
A spokesman for the Council of Ministers, Nader Saad, said in a press statement on Wednesday that the new law to combat drug use would treat people anonymously, and that they could avoid dismissal from their jobs by seeking help.
Psychiatrist Ahmed Wael said in a statement that treating addiction is “easy” and that it helps the person, and society, “avoid significant damage.”
He said the Egyptian government had taken a positive step, but that further efforts were required, particularly from the ministries of interior and social solidarity, to reduce both supply and demand.
“The Ministry of Social Solidarity needs to reduce demand for drugs by carrying out campaigns to raise awareness of the dangers of addiction. There is a need for more rehabilitation centers to manage the crisis,” said Wael, adding that measures also needed to be taken to reduce the amount of drugs entering Egypt.
Sociologist Magda Mustafa said, “Addiction hits all economic classes, rich or poor. The heinous crimes that are caused by addiction are not linked to a specific social category, and this is confirmed by the news of daily crimes.”
Mustafa added that it was incorrect to claim that drug addiction is caused solely by economic and social problems, pointing out that negligence and lack of awareness campaigns from officials, as well as the Al-Azhar Foundation, should also be taken into consideration.