"A number of Israeli bulldozers accompanied by a throng of Israeli policemen and border guards have started the demolition works," Head of the Islamic Movement Sheikh Raed Salah told IslamOnline.net.
The wooden bridge leads all the way to the Al-Maghariba Gate, one of the fourteen gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
According to Palestinian archeologists, leveling the mound uppon which the wooden bridge is built would threaten the foundation of Al-Aqsa Mosque and would open the way for more Israeli excavations.
Raef Youssef Nijm, the former Jordanian waqfs minister and the head of Al-Aqsa Reconstruction Committee, said the new Israeli excavations are aimed at discovering what Jews believe a gate to their alleged temple.
Israeli authorities claim the works intend to strengthen an access ramp to the Al-Maghariba Gate, which was damaged during a snow storm two years ago, in coordination with the Palestinian Waqfs Ministry and UNESCO.
Palestinian officials, however, denied any kind of coordination.
On Sunday, February 4, Israel imposed restrictions on access to the mosque compound for fear of demonstrations against the planned digging.
The compound, known as Al-Haram Al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary), houses the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Al-Aqsa Mosque is the Muslims' first Qiblah [direction Muslims take during prayers] and its the third holiest shrine after Al Ka'bah in Makkah and Prophet Muhammad's Mosque in Madinah, Saudi Arabia.
Its significance has been reinforced by the incident of Al Isra'a and Al Mi'raj -- the night journey from Makkah to Al-Quds and the ascent to the Heavens by Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be Upon Him).
This represents the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict as Jews claim that their alleged Haykal (Temple of Solomon) exists underneath Al-Haram Al-Sharif.
In an attempt to confront Israeli schemes threatening the mosque, the Waqfs Ministry released some one million copies of an electronic guide about the mosque and its compound.
Mohammad Hussein, Al-Quds Mufti, said the mound to be demolished contains Islamic artifacts.
"These excavations would affect the foundations of the Al-Aqsa and open the way for the Dome of the Rock mosque," he warned in statements to Al-Jazeera.
In an appeal through Al-Jazeera, Palestinian Chief Judge Sheikh Tayssir Al-Tamami urged Palestinians Tuesday to rush to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound to defend it.
Khaled Meshaal, the leader of Hamas, has also condemned Israeli excavations, warning that Tel Aviv was "playing with fire".
"Sharon's desecration of the Aqsa sparked the 2000 Intifada. The Israeli leadership must learn from this lesson. We have confidence in our people, its masses, all of its groups and military wings," he said.
An Intifada broke out in September 2000 after a provocative visit by then Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon to the mosque compound.
The Aqsa Mosque has been a flashpoint for Israeli-Palestinian fighting in the past.
In the aftermath of the 1967 war, Israeli authorities reduced to rubble historical sites and corners near Al-Maghariba gate and erased Al-Maghariba alley from Al-Quds map.
On August 21, 1969, the mosque was set ablaze, gutting its southern wing –- some 1,500 square meters out of a total of 4,400 -- and destroyed the historical pulpit established by Muslim hero Salahudin Al-Ayyubi.
Palestinians have repeatedly warned that ultra-orthodox Jewish groups were planning to dynamite the mosque.Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16