A fire broke out at the revered Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City on Monday, burning a prayer room in Al-Marwani Mosque, eyewitnesses said.
Footage showing smoke and fire emerging from the roof of a structure known as the Marwani Prayer Room could be seen from far distances.
One of the guards of the Mosque said: “The fire broke out in the guard's room outside the roof of the Marwani Prayer Room, and the fire brigade of the Islamic Waqf handled the matter successfully.”
News of the incident at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam and central to the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict, was largely overshadowed by a much larger blaze engulfed the Notre Dame Cathedral at the same time.
Al-Marwani Prayer Room is located underneath the southeastern corner of Al-Aqsa Mosque, which contains both the Dome of the Rock and several other prayer areas and facilities.
Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, director general of the Jerusalem Waqf and Al-Aqsa Mosque Affairs Department, said: “The fire broke out in the courtyard and preliminary information.”
On 21 August, 1969, an extremist Australian Christian, Dennis Michael Rohan, attempted to set fire to Al-Aqsa Mosque; his action had the apparent blessing of the Israeli occupation forces. Some 48 years later, the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa remains under as great a threat as ever.
However, Monday’s arsonist has not been known yet, but the Israeli occupation authorities claimed they would open an investigation into the case.