Shaikh Ikrama Sabri said the walls marking the boundaries of al-Haram al-Sharif (The Noble Sanctuary) around al-Aqsa mosque and those around the old city had been weakened by Israeli excavations.
Speaking to Aljazeera from Jerusalem, Shaikh Sabri, said: “Large visible cracks have formed in the walls due to ongoing Israeli excavation work since 1967.“
The Israeli occupation authorities are using heavy equipment, causing severe damage to the ancient and sacred walls which date back a few centuries, he said.
Israel held responsible
“We hold the Israeli occupation authorities totally responsible for the dilapidation of Jerusalem’s walls,” he said.
Shaikh Sabri said some of the damaged walls had been renovated and restored by the Islamic Waqf (religious endowment) foundation, but that its work was being hampered.
“We hold the Israeli occupation authorities totally responsible for the dilapidation of Jerusalem’s walls”
“The Waqf has renovated some of the walls surrounding al-Aqsa mosque over the past few months,” he said.
“The Waqf is willing and ready to continue the renovations if the Israeli authorities do not obstruct its work, as the materials needed for renovations have to pass through the outer gates of al-Aqsa mosque,” he said.
The outer gates of the old city and those of al-Aqsa mosque are manned by Israeli occupation forces who inspect and search everything passing through, and at times restrict movement to and from the area.
Israeli forces man the entrances
Shaikh Sabri said the authorities had previously obstructed renovation work conducted by the endowment and had prevented workers from transporting raw materials to al-Aqsa mosque.
“They have obstructed our work under the pretext that they want to participate in the renovations,” he said.
“However, the Waqf department has rejected their participation, saying that the management of al-Aqsa’s affairs fall under its ambit.
“The endowment department will not allow Israeli participation in the renovations of al-Aqsa mosque and the walls surrounding it,” he said.
“We have done our duty and will continue repairing the ancient and sacred al-Aqsa mosque walls.”