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(photo credit: AP)
Activists affiliated with the Islamic Movement in Israel are denouncing plans to build a police station in the Western Wall plaza, describing it as an attack on the nearby Aksa Mosque.
But police say the plans call for rebuilding a station in the exact location that one previously stood for some three decades.
The original structure, located near one of the entrances to the Western Wall tunnels and next to the stairs that lead out of the courtyard, was destroyed by officials a few years ago because it fell into disrepair, said Jerusalem Police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby.
"In the Aksa courtyard, there is already a police station," Ben-Ruby said on Thursday. "Just as there is a station that serves those who come to the Temple Mount, there will also be a station that serves those who arrive at the Western Wall. It's nothing new. There was a police station there, and the police station will return."
Plans to rebuild the station would first have to be approved by the Interior Ministry's district planning committee, he said.
The Aksa Foundation, which is affiliated with the more radical northern branch of the Islamic Movement, issued a statement last week condemning plans "to target al-Aksa mosque" Jerusalem.
The foundation said building a police station in that location would "tighten the [Israeli] siege" around the mosque and strengthen the presence of the "Israeli occupation forces in a large way" at the mosque.
Ben-Ruby rejected these claims as attempts to manipulate the truth, saying the new station would pose no danger to the mosque.