PA official: Al-Aqsa “belongs to the Muslims,” Part of complex was to be converted to Jewish synagogue
Headline: “[Ikrima] Sabri to Al-Quds: The anniversary of the Night Journey and Ascent to Heaven falling at the same time as the victory of the opening of the Gate of Mercy building this year is a message to the occupation”
“The anniversary of [Prophet Muhammad’s] Night Journey and Ascent to Heaven this year has been adorned by the Jerusalem people’s victory in opening the Gate of Mercy building on Feb. 16  (see note below –Ed.).
Head of the Supreme Muslim Council in Jerusalem and [head] preacher in the Al-Aqsa Mosque Sheikh Ikrima Sabri said in an interview with Al-Quds that ‘The anniversary of the Night Journey and Ascent to Heaven comes this year with a decisive victory of the residents of Jerusalem in opening the Gate of Mercy building, and the message from this victory to the occupation and the settlers [is] that the plans have failed.’
And Sabri said: ‘The anniversary of the Night Journey and the Ascent to Heaven reminds us of the divine miracle and calls on us to protect the place of the Night Journey (i.e., Jerusalem) of our Messenger Muhammad and that the mosque belongs to the Muslims, with its full 144 dunams (i.e., approximately 35.6 acres), and prayer is held in all parts of it, covered and uncovered. The occupation prevented prayer in the Gate of Mercy building for 16 years, with oppression and aggression, and praise Allah, the victory was realized on Feb. 16 and prayer is continuing there until now, and it will not be closed, regardless of the price for this. The occupation’s aggression against [the mosque] is great oppression and the occupation’s plan was to turn this historical building, an original part of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, into a Jewish synagogue, and Allah brought success to the path of the Murabitin and Murabitat (i.e., the men and women carrying out Ribat, religious conflict/war to protect land claimed to be Islamic) to reopen it and utilize it. This great achievement came together with [the anniversary of] the miracle of the Night Journey and the Ascent to Heaven.’
Sabri added: ‘After the opening of the Gate of Mercy, the occupation went wild and tried to spread fear and threats, but they shattered in the face of the willpower of the people of Jerusalem and the official position.’”
February 2019 Temple Mount clashes – Muslim riots broke out on the Temple Mount starting Feb. 18, 2019, after the Israeli police closed a compound near the Gate of Mercy after the Jordanian Waqf had violated an Israeli court order by reopening the compound the previous week. The compound was ordered sealed in 2017 given that it was managed by the banned Islamic Movement in Israel and used for illegal construction and antiquities destruction.