Regavim, a pro-Israel nongovernmental organization (NGO) that focuses on legal issues, reported that the Israeli High Court rejected a second petition requesting the court delay or stop Muslim construction adjacent to Sha’ar Harachamim (Gate of Mercy, also known as the Golden Gate). The construction, intended to turn the site into a permanent mosque, is being carried out without permits and is in contravention of agreements between the Waqf (Muslim authority), Jordan, and Israel.
“We do not understand how the court rejected our petition to stop the construction and why they do not see this as rewarding parties for trampling the law,” Regavim said in a statement. “It should be emphasized that this is the holiest site in Judaism that was destroyed by rioters under the auspices and with the approval of all those responsible for enforcing the law in the capital of the State of Israel.”
The area in question is a hall under the Temple Mount plaza, at the base of stairs. A low gate at the top of the stairs was locked to visitors, Muslim and Jewish, 16 years ago by court order after the hall was used as a meeting place for a Hamas-affiliated organization. Arabs rioted at the site in March during the first week of the month-long Ramadan, breaking into the hall. The Israeli High Court ordered the Waqf to close the site but the Waqf refused. Prime Minister Netanyahu ordered the police to close the site but this order was never carried out.
The Waqf requested permission to renovate the site and the Israeli authorites rejected the request. Renovations began soon after despite the Israeli refusal and without any oversight by the Israeli Antiquities Authority.
Similar renovations of Solomon’s Stables in 1996 resulted in 400 truckloads of material containing artifacts being removed from the Temple Mount and dumped in landfills. Much of the material was lost but Dr. Barkay’s Sifting Project has succeeded in recovering many of these invaluable remnants from the Jewish Temples.
It should be noted that when Israel conquered the Temple Mount in 1967, there was only one mosque, al Aqsa, on site. Despite and agreement to maintain the status quo, the Waqf established an additional four areas for Muslim prayer in the Temple Mount compound.
No churches or synagogues exist on the Temple Mount and non-Muslims are prohibited from praying at the site. Violators are removed from the area and can be subject to arrest.
According to Jewish tradition, the Messiah will arrive via the Sha’ar HaRachamim. Out of a mistaken belief that Jewish tradition speaks of the Messiah being from the priestly caste, the Ottomans built a cemetery in front of the gate in order to prevent the Jewish Messiah from arriving.