AMMAN: Israeli police have stopped workers from the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf from renovating the Dome of the Rock for two consecutive days, raising tensions in the old city.
Azzam Khatib, director of the Jordanian Waqf department in Jerusalem, informed Jordan’s Ambassador in Tel Aviv Ghassan Majali and Minister of Waqf in Amman Mohammed Khalaileh of the news.
Israeli officials claim the decision was made after an individual tried to renovate the ceiling of the Bab Al-Rahmeh mosque, which Israel has demanded Muslims to vacate, without reason.
The Jerusalem Waqf Council is expected to issue a strong statement denouncing the Israeli action, calling it a violation of understandings.
Bassam Hallaq, the Waqf engineer in charge of the renovation, said that Israeli police stopped work on the gold-plated Dome of the Rock on Saturday and Sunday, and prevented urgent electric work, too.
Israel insists that any renovation or repair must be pre-approved. The renovation is not structural.
Arab News has learned that the Israeli actions on Saturday and Sunday followed the efforts of an unknown Palestinian whose face was covered, who climbed the roof of the Bab Al-Rahmeh mosque in order to apply cement to stop leaks.
Israel has forbidden any repair work on the mosque.
Hallaq said that all repair work in the entire Al-Aqsa compound has also been suspended by Israel.
The mosque’s engineer insists that the Waqf has no cement materials inside the Al-Aqsa mosque compound and that Friday was a holiday when staff did not work.
Sheikh Omar Kisswani, director of Al-Aqsa Mosque, told reporters that repairs to the entire 144 dunum Haram Al-Sharif/Al-Aqsa mosque compound were the right of the Islamic Waqf and that the Israeli police have no right to interfere in their work.
A spokesman for the Israeli police told Arab News that the “subject isn’t under the responsibility of the Israeli police.”