The Ras el-Amud mosque, situated on Jerusalem's Mount of Olives, has been illegally expanded by 217 square meters (about 2,335 square feet) over the past year, Ynet reported Thursday.
Construction work at the mosque began in October 2010. While the main structure was built on private property, the additions were constructed illegally on State-owned land. The initial preparations for the additional construction began – not coincidentally – during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Jewish holiday season, when city inspectors normally don’t enforce the law.
Following repeated complaints lodged by the area's residents, in June 2011 the City of Jerusalem ordered that construction at the site be halted. However, construction continued, and during this time the structure was connected to a water supply network and internal walls were erected.
Construction at Ras el-Amud mosque (Photo: Israel Land Fund)
Michael Frankburg, legal counsel for Jerusalem District Police, said that the construction at the mosque was limited to internal renovations, but photos presented to him by residents indicated that three new structures were built at the site.
Aryeh King, chairman of the East Jerusalem Public Complaints Bureau, said "it is a shame that all the law enforcement agencies are helpless, especially when this is about such an important site as the Mount of Olives.
"When Jews build in central and west Jerusalem, (the City) is very strict with them. It's a shame that the Prime Minister's Office, which is aware of this severe construction infringement, is in no hurry to enforce a law it is so quick to enforce when it comes to Jews who have built their homes on lands they have purchased in the West Bank," he added.
Jerusalem Police said the case was under the municipality's jurisdiction. It said in a statement that as soon as it became evident that construction at the mosque violated a work stoppage order issued by the City, officers were dispatched to the site and made certain construction was halted.
The City of Jerusalem said it would start legal proceedings against the mosque.