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