The Jerusalem Municipality ordered the demolition of a mosque in the Palestinian neighborhood Beit Safafa which is considered to be a replica of one of the country's most recognizable landmarks.
The Al-Rahman Mosque - built before Israel’s founding in 1948 - reportedly drew criticism from several Israeli NGOs due to its striking similarity to the Temple Mount's Dome of the Rock, an Islamic shrine and UNESCO World Heritage Site sacred to both Jews and Muslims.
According to court documents filed last Wednesday, the municipality approved the demolition on the basis of a floor to the building that was built without a permit.
The municipality further added that 700 square meters of the compound were built without a permit or the approval of certified engineers, and therefore posed a safety risk.
“[The mosque] symbolizes the fact that there is no law and no enforcement in the State of Israel,” said Yehuda Sharabanay, Project Director of the Im Tirtzu NGO, which seeks to promote Zionist thinking and Zionist ideology in Israel.
Residents of Beit Safafa and other Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem say that they sometimes have no choice but to build illegally due to the difficulties in obtaining permits.
“This is a calm and quiet neighborhood, this is a mosque and it should be respected,” said community leader Muhammad Alian.
Aviv Tatarsky of the Ir Amim NGO which seeks to promote peace and equality in Israel, condemned the decision, adding that the municipality was “capitulating to [right-wing] extremists.”
“The Jerusalem Municipality must act to increase trust and prevent unnecessary conflicts between it and the residents,” he said.
Republished with permission from i24NEWS.