After a three-day closure due to safety concerns, Jerusalem Municipality
officials on Wednesday reopened the Mugrabi Bridge, the temporary wooden
structure that leads from the Western Wall Plaza to the Temple Mount
The municipality had insisted on the bridge’s closure due to its
flammability and danger of collapse.
But the closure of the only Temple
Mount entrance that Jews could use prompted an outcry from activists and
politicians. It was reopened early on Wednesday after a fire truck was stationed
next to the bridge.
Jerusalem fire department spokesman Asaf Abras said
the truck would be stationed at the bridge from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the next 10
Mugrabi Bridge closed due to safety concerns
delays demolition of Mughrabi Bridge'
Next week, the Western Wall Heritage Fund, which oversees the
Western Wall Plaza and the Mugrabi Bridge, will fortify the bridge with
flame-retardant material and additional anchoring supports. The work is being
carried out in cooperation with the police, the Jerusalem Municipality and the
Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch said he
hoped diplomatic efforts would enable the future replacement of the bridge,
which now takes up a large portion of the women’s prayer
National Union MKs Uri Ariel and Arye Eldad took the bridge up
to the Temple Mount Wednesday morning to put pressure on the government to
replace the structure rather than use a temporary fix.
“The time has come
for the government to exercise its sovereignty over the holiest spot in the
Jewish religion,” Ariel said outside the Temple Mount.
Eldad said there
was no reason to be worried about disturbing the status quo.
the whole Torah, and the words ’status quo’ are not there. There is nothing holy
about the status quo,” he said.
The MKs had originally planned their
visit to protest the lack of access for Jews and tourists who wanted to go up to
the Temple Mount.
Traditionally the Mugrabi Gate is the only entrance for
It was closed to the public from Sunday to Tuesday, due to
ongoing safety concerns.
Eldad added that the idea of placing a fire
truck next to the bridge was “ridiculous.”
He compared the situation to
the popular fable of the Wise Men of Chelm, who had a broken
People kept falling off and breaking their legs. But rather than
building a new bridge, they built a hospital next to it so that when people fell
and hurt themselves, they would have somewhere to go.
“This is exactly
what we’re doing by putting a fire truck there,” he said.
The bridge was
opened for non-Muslims to enter the Temple Mount complex on a normal schedule,
which includes most mornings except for Friday and is contingent on the Muslim
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said in an interview with The Jerusalem
Post on Wednesday he was “frustrated” that the Mugrabi Bridge would not be
replaced with a new bridge, one that would be more aesthetically pleasing and
restored to the size the original was in 2004, before it collapsed.
original earthen ramp collapsed that year due to heavy snowstorms. The temporary
bridge was originally due to be used for only six months.
Due to the
sensitive nature of Jerusalem’s holiest site, an attempt to build a new bridge
in 2007 stirred violent protests across the Arab world and calls for a third