Israel has closed the Mughrabi Gate to the Temple Mount, due to significant, ongoing safety concerns related to the rickety, temporary scaffolding propping up the rickety, temporary, prone-to-swaying-under-heavy-traffic wooden bridge. And given that this dangerous, untenable situation has been the status quo since February, 2007, it’s about freaking time.
Officials closed the Mugrabi Bridge on Sunday, three days before the municipality deadline to close the ramp leading from the Western Wall plaza to the Temple Mount.The Jerusalem city engineer, Shlomo Eshkol, has warned over the past year in a series of letters to the prime minister and the Western Wall Heritage Foundation – which oversees the area – that the temporary bridge is unsafe.
The municipality originally set November 28 as the deadline to destroy the bridge, but Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu intervened to stop the demolition, worried about triggering riots across the Arab world. In the most recent letter, sent last week, the municipality insisted the entrance must be closed to the public until a new bridge is built.
The closure, which came earlier than expected, touched off a stormy reaction in the Knesset and among right-wing activists.
“Israel doesn’t know how to express its own independence in its own capital,” said Yehudah Glick, the founder and chairman of the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation, which advocates for Jewish access to the site. He said that in the past, when construction caused the closure of the Mugrabi Gate, non-Muslim tourists and pilgrims were allowed to use the Chain Gate, one of the 12 entrances to the Temple Mount. Similar access was not granted on Sunday.
MK Uri Ariel (National Union) called for the immediate demolition of the bridge so construction of a safer alternative could begin.
“But even with this, it would be inconceivable if during construction Jews are hindered from going to the Temple Mount for even one minute, and the construction work should never be an excuse for this,” he said.
Glick and Ariel both called for the prime minister to work to find alternate routes for Jewish worshipers and tourists while the bridge’s fate is decided.
The bridge has been the subject of contention because it is the only entrance for non-Muslims who want to visit the Dome of the Rock. The original earthen ramp collapsed during a snowstorm in 2004, and the temporary bridge was built in its stead, meant to serve for a few months at most until a permanent bridge was built. Repair work on the bridge in 2007 touched off widespread Muslim rioting in Jordan and Jerusalem and calls for a third intifada.
Most people agree that the bridge is indeed dangerous to use, and that closing it is not a political move.
Tour guide Madeline Lavine told The Jerusalem Post in October that she refused to bring tourists up the bridge ever since heavy traffic had caused it to sway beneath her feet while she was accompanying a large group. The wooden structure is flammable and was not meant to handle years of heavy loads, including patrols of border police who use it as the emergency entrance to the Temple Mount in times of unrest. The municipality has warned that a cigarette tossed on the bridge could create a tragedy along the lines of a “Carmel Fire II.”
The only groups that disagree with the city engineer’s findings is the Council for Muslim Interests in Israel and the Wakf Islamic trust. The council says its engineers deem the bridge structurally sound, and that any work on it should be done in coordination with the Wakf.
The issue of a replacement bridge and coordination with Muslim authorities was set to be discussed by the High Court of Justice in June, but the case was pushed off until December 28. Another case involving the Western Wall plaza and the bridge will be heard by the Jerusalem District Court in January.
As usual, Elder is all over it: Sorely needed facts about the Mughrabi ramp and gate
3 weeks ago today, I was at the Kotel with my kids. Of the many things I discussed with them was the proclivity for the Arab & Muslim worlds in general, and the PalArab world in particular, to lash out at imaginary Israeli demons, whenever Israel tries to do something as historically-significant as
Judaizing Jerusalem uncovering priceless archaeological treasures, or as banal as performing sorely-needed maintenance.
As we stood in the middle of the plaza, I pointed to the left, showing them where the Western Wall Tunnels, heading northward from the iconic public plaza, were completed during Prime Minister Netanyahu’s first term in the mid ’90s. Then I pointed aaaaaaaaaaaaall the way over to the right, at the place Israel’s enemies and their gullible enablers claimed Israel was trying to tunnel under and destroy – the Al-Aqsa Mosque – located along the southern wall of the Temple Mount. I also mentioned the occasional crises revolving around the Mughrabi Gate in the past, not realizing this non-issue would become an issue again so soon.
And what do both faux crises have in common? In both cases, whether uncovering the subterranean continuation of the Western Wall (by definition OUTSIDE the Temple Mount), or repairing the bridge to one of the Gates of the Temple Mount (ALSO by definition OUTSIDE the Temple Mount), and doing both transparently, them Evil Zionists can’t possibly be tunneling UNDER the Temple Mount, now can
they we? All it takes to see that the oft-repeated claims are as absurd as they are contemptible is a little common sense, sadly lacking when it comes to Israel-hatery.
UPDATE: I created a crude yet handy-dandy map, to illustrate my point:
Furthermore, the charge that Israel is “Judaizing Jerusalem” is not only a hackneyed, pathetic refrain; it is also an impossibility. Given that the city is and has been the epicenter of Jewish spiritual and physical life; the uninterrupted focus of our prayers, hopes and dreams for millenia, given that we are constantly unearthing archaeological witness after witness to ancient Jewish life here, Jerusalem already comes PRE-Judaized. As such, Jerusalem can only be DE-Judaized, the attempts at which, as it turns out, are well underway. At the same time the world is wringing hands and gnashing teeth about Israel fixing an old and busted ramp, the Muslim Waqf has been brazenly trying to erase and bulldoze Jewish history, not by mere lies alone, but with actual bulldozers. And the world (including, sadly, the Israeli government) is silent.
When one side in a conflict can lie so effortlessly, so regularly, so remorselessly, and (thanks to the default Western credulity), so blamelessly… when the framework of understanding used by the vast majority of the world is built on a foundation of falsehood as flimsy as the temporary ramp, then how can anything be achieved, aside from another sad act of ‘peace theater’ on the White House lawn? Until such a day as truth is valued above ignorance, above fear, above political correctness, there is simply no hope of achieving any kind of true peace. EVER. And any attempt to force feed it is but a suicidal (or homicidal, as the case may be) fantasy, as it comes to the damn table PRE-failed.
Back to 3 weeks ago, I didn’t specifically take any photos with the Mughrabi Gate/Bridge/Ramp as the main subject, but as I looked more closely, there it was, in all its precariously rickety glory.
See how the flimsy bridge and scaffolding towers over the women’s section at the Kotel? In addition to the people who may be on the ramp at any given time, the potential to injure or kill those below only increases the danger.
For those of you who didn’t get the reference in the title of this post: