The Israeli occupation authorities have removed the dome and crescent of the minaret of the Jerusalem Citadel, southwest of the Old City, sparking widespread anger among Palestinians.
The Jerusalem Citadel is an ancient citadel located near the Jaffa Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem. The citadel dates to the Roman period and it was rebuilt during the Ottoman period.
Following the Israeli capture of Jerusalem in 1967, Israel took control of the Citadel and turned it into a museum, after renaming it: “The Tower of David” or “Jerusalem History Museum”. Prayers were prevented in the Citadel two mosques located near the Hebron Gate (one of the Old City gates).
Once the dome and crescent were removed under the supervision of the so-called “Israeli Antiquities Authority,” the museum’s administration declared on its website that The Tower of David Museum is undergoing a $50 million renovation to update its permanent exhibition.
However, the renovation process has another dark face. Jerusalemites affirmed that a series of violations were carried out during the restoration work, with the aim of blurring all Islamic features which confirm its Islamic identity.
A Jerusalemite man – who refused to be identified – revealed that he used to protect and hide Islamic monuments in the basements of the castle for fear of being stolen by Israeli authorities.
The unidentified man, who has worked in the Citadel for four decades, affirmed that ‘all the narratives told to the visitors are fabricated and falsified,’ noting that two million visitors annually visit the historic place.
Emotionally speaking about the historical mihrab and minbar located inside one of the exhibition halls, the man said that he learned that the “Israeli Antiquities Authority” intended to steal four ancient stone columns of the minbar, so he hided them in the castle’s catacombs.
In an attempt to protect the Islamic monuments, the employee contacted the Islamic religious authorities and the Endowment Department. However, he received no response, as “nothing can be changed.”
In this regard, we strongly condemn the Israeli occupation authorities’ violations of international laws and norms by changing the status quo and the Islamic identity of Occupied Jerusalem.
We further call on the international community to bear its responsibility and stop its double standards policy against Palestinians.