Hundreds of Arabs from across Israel arrive at the Mugrabi Gate near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem Thursday afternoon in protest to excavations taking place near the gate, adjacent to the Western Wall.
The protesters claimed that Sheikh Raad Salah, head of the northern branch of the Islamic movement, also plans on arriving, despite a restraining order received Wednesday that bars him from coming within 150 meters of the Old City for 10 days.
"We oppose the destruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque," one protester told Ynet. "It hurts Muslim pride, the world, and Israel. The works could cause the situation in the whole region to deteriorate and even intensify the intifada."
Hundreds protest at Mugrabi Gate (Photo: Haim Zach)
A spokesman for the Islamic movement, Zahi Nujidat, said "we came to protest the excavations. The path to Mugrabi Gate is 800 years old and it's only Muslim, not Jewish."
"The current works are a continuation of previous works whose sole purpose was to draw a line on the ground. We suspect that the goal of the current works is to declare Al-Aqsa to be a synagogue," he added.
"Al-Aqsa belongs to the whole Arab world," said Akhbaraya Muhammad from Umm al-Fahm. "We want to be respected. What's going on is bad for both peoples."
On Friday, the Islamic Movement is planning a large rally in Nazareth. "We invited all of the Arab public in Israel to unify around the issue and express our rage about the works.
"We call on the Muslim and Arab world to unite on this issue and hope that the Israel government will order a stop to them," the movement said.