On Wednesday, Israeli authorities re-opened the Mughrabi Gate bridge—or Bab al-Maghariba—that leads to al-Aqsa mosque. The wooden bridge was closed on Sunday under the pretext that it was unsafe and a fire hazard.
Head of the Manuscripts Department of al-Aqsa Mosque Najeh Bakirat told Palestine official news wire Wafa on Wednesday that Israeli forces allowed dozens of Israeli citizens, settlers and tourists to enter al-Aqsa through the gate.
One of the mosque’s guards said that settlers were making “provocative tours” of the courtyard and facilities of the holy mosque, protected by a detachment of Israeli police.
Over the past few weeks, the Israeli government has seen local and international pressure brought to bear over the closure or demolition of the bridge, especially from the Jordanian and Egyptian governments, as well as the Quartet and the European Union.
Extremist Jewish groups, after Sunday’s closure announcement, threatened to use the al-Silsileh Gate as an alternative.
Rightist MKs Aryeh Eldad and Uri Erai were among the first ten that entered the mosque.
“The bridge must be closed as it poses a safety hazard, being highly flammable and in danger of collapsing, but it’s unacceptable that Jews are forbidden from entering the Temple Mount,” said Erai. “I call on the Prime Minister and Minister of Internal Security, to find an alternative way for Jews to enter.”
MK Eldad said, “If the bridge was dangerous, then another alternative bridge must be built. Until then, one of the big gates that Jewish were [previously] forbidden from using must be opened and just a few Muslims should be allowed.”