J'lem engineer to order Mughrabi Bridge closed

By JPOST.COM STAFF
December 8, 2011 11:31

Temporary wooden structure poses risk to public, surrounding buildings due to possibility of collapse, fire, Eshkol says in letter.

2 minute read.



Mughrabi Gate bridge

Mughrabi Gate bridge 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

The Jerusalem municipal engineer Shlomo Eshkol said he intends to order the Mughrabi Bridge linking the Western Wall Plaza to the Temple Mount closed immediately, citing the danger it poses to the public.

In a letter to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, the city engineer said the temporary wooden bridge poses an immediate danger to the public and surrounding property due to the danger of fire and collapse. "Therefore I intend to issue and order closing the structure immediately and not to allow any use of it," the letter said, adding that the foundation would be given one week to submit any objections to the order.

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The statement noted that the closure would allow limited exceptions for security forces to use the bridge in urgent cases after consulting with the municipal engineer.

The Western Wall Rabbi's office issued a response to Jerusalem's municipal engineer, ordering the immediate closure of the Mughrabi Bridge connecting the Western Wall Plaza and the Temple Mount.

The office of Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich's office said it is studying the municipal engineer's order and its significance. The statement added that "any decision will be taken with the safety of bridge pedestrians and worshipers at the Kotel in mind."

Late last month, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the last minute delayed plans to start rebuilding the Mughrabi Bridge because of Egyptian and Jordanian concerns.

The bridge, which was built as a temporary solution after the collapse of the previous access structure from the Western Wall Plaza in 2004, has aroused suspicions and conspiracy theories in Muslim countries that Israel plans to undermine the structural integrity of the Temple Mount, which houses the al-Aksa Mosque.

Previous work on the bridge has sparked widespread rioting and violence in both east Jerusalem and the Arab world due to the sensitive location.

Construction on the Mughrabi Bridge in 2007 sparked protest marches in Jordan, as well as calls for a third intifada and low-level violence in Wadi Joz and other areas of the Holy Basin. UNESCO investigated the site in an attempt to defuse religious tensions, and found that the construction was not damaging holy sites. However, it called on Israel to halt construction until a team of international observers could join.

The Jordanian Wakf - responsible for Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem - raised objections to the plan, calling the closure "a disastrous policy" on Thursday, according to Army Radio.

Prior to Netanyahu's order to delay construction on the new bridge last month, it 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 a Channel 2 report.


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