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 Escalating Tensions on Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif + Advancement of Gilo Plan

The recent constellation of developments on and related to the Temple Mount/Haram Al-Sharif triggers cause for concern given the traditional acceleration of Temple Movement activities in advance of major Jewish holidays and their deleterious impact on the fragile status quo.  

Over the last several weeks, Ir Amim has documented a series of police actions taken against Islamic Waqf employees:

  • July 27: Waqf employees require Tzach Dvira and a group of Israeli archaeologists to exit the Temple Mount.  Dvira is an archaeologist working on the ELAD run Temple Mount sifting project in nearby Emek Tzurim and has issued strong criticism against the Waqf for what he claims to be destruction of antiquities. After the group refused to leave, Waqf officials attempted to remove them by force.  Police intervened and arrested two members of the Waqf.
  • August 2: Police prevent Waqf employees from fixing a burst underground pipe in the compound. In the ensuing conflict, one member of the Waqf is arrested and three others are summoned for questioning by the police.
  • August 3: Police prevent Waqf employees from working on the restoration of mosaics inside the Dome of the Rock.  The Waqf had recently completed part of the restoration project and was set to initiate the next phase when employees were barred by the police, which arrested the head of the restoration team and three other employees, one of whom has been banned from the compound for two weeks.
  • August 4: The Waqf rehabilitation team tries to renew reconstruction work, at which time the police remove the head of the restoration team from the Mount for 5 days and arrest five additional Waqf employees.
  • August 7: A Waqf employee is arrested outside the area of the Temple Mount, further details pending.

These developments join a long list of incidents between the police and the Waqf at the end of Ramadan, including the widely publicized disruption of food deliveries to break the day long fasts. 

In tandem with these developments, and inconsistent with the government’s commitment to fortify the status quo on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, a minister of the government is scheduled to participate in an upcoming event organized by a far right wing group with ties to the Temple Movement.  On August 13, the eve of Tisha B’av, Women in Green is scheduled to conduct its annual walk around the Old City Walls – in recent years, mobilized in support of Temple Movement activities – to commemorate the destruction of the First and Second Temples and call for “full sovereignty in the Land of Israel”.  Promotional materials for the event list Likud MK and Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Ze’ev Elkin as a featured speaker. This is the first time since 2012 that a Likud minister will take part in an event organized by a Temple Movement group.  Dov Kalmanovitch (Jewish Home), Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, is also scheduled to speak.

This year, MK and Temple Movement activist Yehuda Glick will address participants along with Rina Ariel, mother of the Yaffa Ariel, the young girl slain in the settlement of Kiryat Arba in June.  Both parents are long time Temple Movement activists who recently vowed to channel community rage in response to their daughter’s murder into heightened activity on the Temple Mount. Please link here for more on the Temple Movements and their mission to overturn the status quo on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif. 

Ir Amim’s long term monitoring demonstrates that local flare-ups  particularly in proximity to major Jewish holiday periods, when the volume of Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif rises – leads to a parallel increase in the application of collective restrictions on Muslim worshippers’ access to the compound.  Ir Amim has documented a direct correlation between the imposition of collective restrictions and escalation of tensions and violence in the compound and East Jerusalem. Ir Amim calls on the government to observe its fulfillment of international agreements outlining steps to preserve the status quo. In addition to prohibiting participation of government officials in Temple Movement related activities, continued restraint on the imposition of collective restrictions on Muslim access to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, as was observed during the Passover holiday, will be imperative to maintaining the peace.  Please link here for more on collective restrictions.

New developments in Gilo

Officials in the Jerusalem Municipality recently declared their support for a plan that would add approximately 2,500 new housing units to the area of Gilo, expanding it southeast along Road 60 (the road linking Jerusalem to the south of the West Bank).  The plan has yet to be assigned a TPS (town planning scheme) number and has not yet arrived for discussion at the Local Planning and Building Committee. Despite the plan still being in its formative stages, both its scope and the timing of the declaration of support in the context of recent developments in Gilo, give cause for heightened scrutiny.

The current announcement corresponds to Ir Amim’s November 2014 alert, in which it exposed a new master plan for Gilo initiated by the Jerusalem Municipality, intended to expand the neighborhood towards Bet Jala and Wallajeh and dramatically increase the number of housing units in the neighborhood. The plan was included on the agenda of the Local Planning Committee but removed at the last minute.  One part of the expansion – paralleling the recent announcement – earmarked 2,100 housing units in a plan that would push the neighborhood southeast towards Road 60. 

Please address all inquiries to:

Betty Herschman

Director of International Relations & Advocacy

Ir Amim (City of Nations/City of Peoples)




Facebook: tinyurl.com/IrAmimEng

Twitter: @IrAmimAlerts

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