Jerusalem orders demolition of Dome of Rock replica
The Al-Rahman Mosque was built before Israel’s founding in 1948, but has no building permits
The Jerusalem municipality ordered the demolition of a mosque in the Palestinian neighborhood Beit Safafa that is considered by some a replica of the Dome of the Rock, following pressure from right-wing groups.
According to court documents filed Wednesday, the municipality approved the demolition on the basis of a floor to the building that was built without a permit, Ynetnews reported.
The Al-Rahman Mosque was built before Israel’s founding in 1948 and has since been renovated with donations and volunteers among Arab communities.
With a highly-visible golden dome, the compound drew criticism from Israeli NGOs as it was reportedly built without approval and due to its similarity to one of Jerusalem's most recognizable landmarks.
In a statement to Ynetnews, the municipality said that 700 square meters were built without a permit nor the approval of engineers, and therefore posed a safety threat.
“[The mosque] represents the fact that there is no law and no enforcement in the State of Israel,” Yehuda Sharabanay, Project Director of the Im Tirtzu NGO, told i24NEWS.
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,” community leader Muhammad Alian told Ynetnews.
Aviv Tatarsky of the left-wing NGO Ir Amim condemned the decision, and said the municipality was “succumbing to extremists.”
“The Jerusalem Municipality must act to increase trust and prevent unnecessary conflicts between it and the residents,” he said.