Dec 29, 2011 | Middle East Monitor
“The Grand Mosque is a sacred place and a religious endowment property; it cannot be used for purposes other than Islamic worship.”
The Al Aqsa Foundation has accused the Israeli government of turning the Grand Mosque in Beersheba into a “Museum of Judaisation”. Such a move by the local municipality “is invalid” claims the Foundation: “The Grand Mosque is a sacred place and a religious endowment property; it cannot be used for purposes other than Islamic worship.”
Built in 1906 during Ottoman rule, the Grand Mosque is now home to a variety of images, statues and other “disgraceful” things which violate the sanctity of the mosque and the feelings of Muslims, said a statement released by the Foundation.
A delegation from the Al Aqsa Foundation made a field visit to the mosque to inspect the violations of Israel’s Beersheba Municipality. The members of the delegation made a point of praying in the mosque to “emphasise its purpose and sanctity”. It should be returned to its original purpose and not used as a museum or other showcase, they said.
Al Aqsa Foundation’s deputy head, Hajj Sami Rizkallah Abu Mukh, said that the Israelis had hung photographs on the mosque’s walls showing Zionist gangs’ seizure of Beersheba and occupation of the mosque in 1948, alongside pictures of the Israeli history in the city. He said that this sacrilege against a holy place broke his heart, especially when he saw statues of Israeli and British soldiers in the corners of the mosque, and big screens displaying indecent scenes, including people drinking wine and dancing.
Hajj Abu Mukh added that the municipality is trying to deceive public opinion by displaying historical photos of the mosque from the Ottoman era; most of the pictures are from the British Mandate period up to today. “Beersheba,” he added, “is historically an Arab and Islamic city.” He deplored the fact that tourists are visiting the mosque to see the exhibition, even though it is supposed to be a place of worship, not a museum or art gallery.
Al Aqsa Foundation had earlier rejected an Israeli court decision to turn the mosque into a museum of Islamic and oriental heritage, and called for the reopening of the building for Muslim worshippers.
Israel’s Jerusalem municipality plans to build more than 50,000 (updated Dec 3, 2011: 85.000) new homes in the city’s occupied eastern sector over two decades:
- 23,628 homes have already been approved, 20,263 in East Jerusalem and 3,365 in the west.
- 13,824 are pending review, 12,819 in East Jerusalem and 1,005 in the west.
- 23,266 housing units are still in planning stages, 19,281 in the east and 3,985 in the west.
Of these, the municipality plans:
- 10,366 homes in northern East Jerusalem, including illegal Israeli settlement Pisgat Zeev and Palestinian town Beit Hanina.
- 5,239 homes in southern East Jerusalem, including Gilo settlement and Palestinian district Beit Safafa.
- 4,886 new units in central eastern Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan and Jerusalem’s Old City.
Besides this, Israel approved plans to ethnic cleanse 57.000 bedouin from Palestine