A Jewish Synagogue Near Al Aqsa Mosque

A Jewish Synagogue Near Al Aqsa Mosque

In a new violation added to the black record of the Israeli occupation, the Ateret Cohanim colonial organization has inaugurated a Jewish synagogue in the Islamic Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem. The synagogue was established in Al Wad Street in a location called Hammam Al Ain which is one of two old Turkish baths. It is located west of Al Aqsa Mosque in the area between Al Buraq Wall and Suq Al Qattanin. The Turkish baths are an old Islamic Waqf located only 48 meters away from Al Aqsa Mosque.



Sheikh Ikrama Sabri, the Grand Mufti of the Holy Lands, has expressed the following: ' The inauguration of the synagogue is an aggression against the property of the Islamic Waqf. We hereby declare that the City of Jerusalem has no Jewish artifacts whatsoever. The new synagogue is a new phenomena that has no roots into history. '

The Jewish synagogue under construction in November 2007

The synagogue after completing the construction in October 2008.

Despite the Israeli occupation’s claim that the synagogue is a place of worship and, as such, it shouldn’t be considered as a political statement and despite the words of the Rabbi of the “Western Wall” Shamuel Rabinovetsh in which he described the synagogue as “a palace of worship and peace,” the evidence on the ground defies such claims; the first floor of the synagogue is used to dig a tunnel 30 meters deep. It is connected to a network of underground tunnels in the area of Al Buraq Wall, the area of Bab Al Mathara (a gate into Al Aqsa compound) as well as with Al Yabousi Tunnel stretching along the western wall of the Mosque.


Photo 3: A sign placed on the door of the synagogue written on it “ Ateret Cohanim …. United Jerusalem”.




Photo 4: A guard protecting the synagogue and preventing any one stopping in Al Wad Street




The Palestinian Minister of Al Awqaf and Religious Affairs indicated the following: ' The opening of a Jewish synagogue near Al Aqsa Mosque is in violation of all international laws and conventions. It forms a monumental challenge to the Arab and Islamic nations and all honorable people worldwide.    




All international law articles and conventions, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention, clearly declares that all actions and activities carried out by the Occupation Power vis-à-vis the property of the Occupied is illegitimate and illegal.




On the day of the inauguration, Israeli Police sealed off Al Wad Street, occupied the rooftops of a number of nearby Palestinian houses while preventing them from moving into or out of them. Checkpoints were established in the vicinity of the synagogue as Policemen manning them started to question everyone that comes near it, including Sheikh Abu Ali Sheikh, the ex-head of Al Aqsa Society to Restore Islamic Shrines.




Since the opening day of the synagogue, Israeli Border and Blue Police have intensified their presence in front of the synagogue and the road leading to it. They have prevented passengers from stopping and slowing down while in its vicinity. This fact has negatively affected the economic and psychological state of the Palestinian shop owners opened close by as most have lost their customers due to harassment and the inability to enter the shops. Mr. Ramadan Maswadeh, the owner of Khalil Al Rahman Souvenir Shop, which is located right across the street from the synagogue, has indicated the following to Land Research Center’s field researcher: ' They are preventing people from buying anything. They are pressuring us to pack up and leave the place for them. Nobody cares or helps us. The Israelis come in large, pilgrimage-like groups under the full protection of the Police. They transform the place to a military beehive and prevent our customers from reaching us.





Photo 5: A picture taken from inside the souvenir shop.






The new synagogue is one of the closest Jewish synagogues to Al Aqsa Mosque and is considered to be another nail in the continuous Judaization of the Holy City.  Its inauguration formed yet another violation for international conventions that protect the Occupied against the loss of their property and against changing its character. It is also a violation of international heritage as its establishment meant the destruction of an old Turkish bath. 




Prepared by:
The Land Research Center



Categories: Israeli Plans