The Mughrabi Gateway (on the right) that collapsed in 2004 is closed pending reconstruction by the Israeli government.

The Mughrabi Gate that is used to access the Temple Mount was closed this week because it poses an “immediate danger to the users”.

Jerusalem City Engineer Shlomo Eshkol gave the order to close the walkway last week, declaring that it is structurally unsound, is bound to collapse and is flammable because it is made of wood.  The bridge was built in 2004 as a temporary replacement to the original walkway that collapsed under the weight of snow and use by massive numbers of Muslim worshippers who insist on crowding as many people as possible on the Temple Mount during their Friday prayer services.  The walkway was finally closed on Sunday morning.

The closing of the Mughrabi Gate was supposed to occur two weeks ago in anticipation of the construction of a permanent bridge made of stone that would not pose a danger to those who wish to view the Temple Mount and would allow security personnel to quickly stop disturbances that frequently follow Friday prayer services.  However, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delayed the closure and subsequent destruction because of threats of violence from the Waqf Authority, Hamas and other terrorist groups as well as the objection of the Jordanian government.

Palestinian reactions were varied.  Hamas called the closure " a violent act that amounts to a declaration of religious war on the Muslim places in Jerusalem” and threatened violence in response.  The Palestinian Authority and Jordanian government have not issued a response.

In Israel, some politicians were angered by the closure and said that it amounts to handing the Temple Mount to the Arabs who at least have six other access points to the Temple Mount while Jews may only access the site from that one gate.

The Temple Mount, known as the Har HaBayit in Hebrew, is the holiest site in Judaism and is where the two Temples stood.  Muslims claim the site is where Muhammad went to heaven and deny any Jewish connection to the site.  The the Haram Al-Sharif and Al-Aqsa Mosques currently stand in the same location.  Consequently, any repairs or renovations done to the Temple Mount as well as archaeological work conducted nearby are frequently a cause for clashes and threats of violence from Muslim clerics, who perceive any change as an affront to Islam.