By Saed Bannoura
IMEMC & Agencies: An Israeli court in Jerusalem has decided to allow the Israeli government to demolish part of a mosque, despite appeals from the mosque’s imam and several Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset (Parliament).
The Muhammad Al-Fatih Mosque, located in the Ras al-Amoud neighborhood in East Jerusalem, was forced to expand in 2009 due to a massive increase in worshipers after Israeli authorities began preventing Palestinian worshipers from accessing the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City.
The denial of entry for Palestinian worshipers began ten years ago, with the Israeli takeover of East Jerusalem and construction of the Annexation Wall through Palestinian land. Palestinians living on the east side of the Wall have been unable to enter Jerusalem except with special permits which are extremely difficult to obtain.
To deal with the influx of worshipers, the Muhammed Al-Fatih mosque applied to the Israeli authorities for a permit to expand. That permit, like virtually every permit filed by Palestinians for construction on existing property, was denied. Facing a weekly overload of its capacity, the mosque’s managers decided to complete the expansion anyway.
The section in question is designated for female worshipers, who will be unable to participate in weekly services once the demolition is completed.
The imam of the mosque, Sheikh Sabri Abu Diab, told reporters with the Ma’an news agency that the mosque was built in 1964, prior to Israel’s takeover of Jerusalem in 1967. Because of that, it should not be subject to Israeli authorities.
The court’s decision, which was issued on Thursday, cannot be appealed. But several Palestinian Members of the Knesset, including Ibrahim Sarsour, Masoud Ghanayim and Talab Abu Arar, said that they will attempt to stop the demolition.