The Mughrabi Bridge leads from the area of the Kotel (Western Wall) in the Old City of Jerusalem up to the Mugrabi Gate at the entrance to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in the world for the Jewish people. As you all know, the Temple Mount is where the Muslims built their Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock (the Golden Dome mosque) next to it.
In years gone by, the bridge was simply an earthen ramp. In 2004, after a severe winter and an earthquake the ramp collapsed, a temporary bridge was constructed which was ugly, took up about a third of the women’s’ prayer area at the Kotel, and was rickety and unsafe from the outset. The Israeli government has been advised that the bridge must be taken down and rebuilt according to proper safety standards, not to mention the aesthetics of the historical area.
A wonderful photographic blog documenting the streets of Jerusalem has a beautiful post with pictures of the Mughrabi Bridge in all its stages. I recommend you have a look in order to get the right impression of the bridge and its effect on the area.
This being the Middle East, and involving Israel and the Jews, who else but UNESCO has to poke its nose into our business when they demand that Israel accede to Arab demands to stop the building plans. Israel of course was shocked and furious at Jordan’s perfidy in turning to UNESCO after they had already reached an agreement with Israel.
UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee decided to accept a petition by Jordan and issued an official censure of Israel over the archeological excavations near the Mughrabi Gate in the Jerusalem’s Old City.
UNESCO’s censure calls for the immediate cessation of all renovation work done on the Mughrabi Gate bridge, which leads from the Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem to the to the al-Aqsa Mosque and Temple Mount.
Jerusalem sources told the newspaper Israel was “shocked” and “furious” over Jordan’s scheme. “The Jordanians lied to us and to the Americans in an unbelievable way… The most astonishing thing is they don’t even mention the agreement between Israel and Jordan,” Barkan said.
However, this being Israel, and PM Benjamin Netanyahu having a spine made of jelly, the PM folded and issued stop-work orders to the Jerusalem city council.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Friday delayed plans at the last minute to start rebuilding the Mughrabi Bridge linking the Western Wall Plaza to the Temple Mount because of Egyptian and Jordanian concerns, Channel 2 reported Sunday.
According to the report, work on the bridge – which received approval in March – was to have begun early Sunday morning. The initial work of demolishing the existing structure would have necessitated the deployment of large IDF and security forces in Jerusalem and around the Temple Mount, as well as stepped-up army preparedness in the West Bank
Jordan’s Awkaf Islamic Affairs and Holy Places Ministry warned that were Israel to begin to take down the Mughrabi Bridge, the move would likely ignite protests throughout Jordan, which could eventually spread to the West Bank, according to the Channel 2 report.
The shock and outrage at Netanyahu’s capitulation has led even arch-leftist Akiva Eldar at Haaretz to question “Who is this Netanyahu that is involving Muslims in Jerusalem’s affairs?”. I certainly don’t agree with his conclusions but I heartily applaud his questioning Netanyahu’s stance.
The Jerusalem Post published a leader yesterday which shows how the saga of how Israel’s need to rebuild the “temporary” bridge has become a microcosm of the ridiculous absurdity that is the Middle East, and especially the hypocrisy, cruelty, hatred and bias that epitomises the attitude of the Muslims towards the Jews, aided and abetted by that notorious organization, the UN in the shape of UNESCO – yes, that UNESCO that just accepted a non-existing state into its ranks.
During the winter of 2004, rainstorms, snow, flooding and a minor earthquake destroyed the old Mughrabi Ascent. Connecting the Western Wall plaza to Mughrabi Gate, the earthen ramp was the only entry point for non-Muslims to the Temple Mount, which is under control of the Jordanian Waqf, the Muslim custodian of holy sites – though Israel has entry rights.
The ascent was also the only way large numbers of Israeli security forces could gain quick access to the mount in times of emergency or disturbances.
Seven years ago a “temporary” wooden ramp, which blocked about a third of the space reserved for female supplicants at the Kotel, was erected. In parallel, an interministerial committee began planning a new bridge.
Architect Ada Carmi proposed a bridge of glass and steel 200 meters in length … The planning was accompanied by archaeological rescue excavations, a precondition under Israel law aiming to protect archaeological artifacts. Israel took meticulous care rescuing and preserving antiquities – Arab and Jewish.
Cameras were stationed at the excavation site proving the Temple Mount and its mosques were not in danger. Representatives of the Jordanian government,a delegation from Turkey and a delegation on behalf of UNESCO were allowed to visit the site – to no avail.
Muslim extremists used the excavations and the bridge plans as an excuse to stage violent demonstrations and incite against Israel. In February 2007, Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the more extremist northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, claimed that Israel was planning to build a third Temple.
“They want to build their temple while our blood is on their clothing, on their doorposts, in their food and in their water,” he said.
Islamic Jihad in Gaza launched rockets at Sderot. Leading Palestinian Authority cleric Taysir al-Tamimi called on Palestinians to go to al-Aqsa immediately “to protect it from the bulldozers of the Israeli occupation… which are working to destroy Al-Aqsa mosque.”
Israel buckled under the pressure. Carmi’s plans were scrapped. Instead, it was decided that the original earth ascent would be restored. But even this modest project, which entails the destruction of the temporary wooden bridge, has aroused the rancor of the Muslim world.
In June of this year representatives from Jordan, Egypt, Iraq and Bahrain hijacked UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, convincing it to censure Israel for daring to renovate the bridge.
Now time is running out. Jerusalem’s chief engineer for dangerous structures and the firefighting service determined that the wooden ramp was dangerous and a fire hazard, and must be dismantled immediately. Meant to be a temporary solution, the ramp has been standing for seven years and is a disaster in the making.
Finally, it looked as though the dangerous ramps would be replaced. Over a 72-hour period starting this Saturday night, crews were to begin dismantling the ramp. However, on Monday Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, fearful of Arab reactions, ordered a delay in the demolition of the bridge yet again.
Apparently, the bridge has become an issue in the Egyptian elections. The Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader, Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, is claiming that the bridge could enable Israeli security forces to invade al-Aqsa Mosque. …
This madness must stop. An absurd situation has been created in which some irrational Muslim leaders, intoxicated by their own lies – including the spurious belief that the First and Second Temples were never situated on the Temple Mount – have intimidated Israel into inaction.
Israel must not cave in to the insanity of Muslim extremism. The Mughrabi bridge must be replaced – the sooner the better.
Very well written and expresses my thoughts exactly.