By Mudar Zahran – Gatestone Institute
The Al-Aqsa Mosque has been one of the items at the center of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Almost every known Arab political organization has vowed “to liberate Al-Aqsa from the Jews.” In a recent visit to Jerusalem, where I visited and prayed at Al-Aqsa, it occurred to me that perhaps we, the Arabs and Muslims, are the ones causing harm to Al-Aqsa, and not, as we claim, the Jews
In 1948, when the Jordanian government occupied Judea and Samaria, the Al-Aqsa Mosque was placed under the Jordanian Waqf Ministry, which oversees Islamic sites. In 1967, when Israel won the Six-Day-War and regained control over Jerusalem, it did not take control of Al-Aqsa. Instead, Israel transferred control of the mosque to the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf [trust], an independent religious body to oversee the Islamic holy sites there.
The Hashemite regime in Jordan continued to pay the salaries of the managers and the staff members of Al-Aqsa, in accord with what Jordan’s King Hussein described in 1988 as a religious duty he had inherited as the alleged descendent of the prophet Muhammad.
Israel’s responsibility has been limited to providing security and, when necessary, conducting patrols and searches. In addition, the Israeli security forces conduct a strict policy of refusing to allow non-Muslims — including Israeli Jews — into Al-Aqsa except for tourism purposes and only at certain hours of the day.
Upon entering the silver-domed mosque, one can quickly notice how neglected the mosque is, and badly in need of maintenance, with dirty walls, dust-covered ceilings and worn-out chairs, including the one on which the Imam sits. Fire equipment, tossed randomly in a heap in a corner, looks as if it has not been touched in a long time.