The Old City of Al-Quds

Jul 31, 2023 07:46 pm
Photo from archive

Shaimaa Abu Al-Hawa

One of the long-standing historical landmarks in occupied Al-Quds is the Old City. Al-Quds's alleyways, neighborhoods, and arcades are teeming with ancient tales that date back thousands of years. The Old City is home to numerous historic structures and holy places. Its 872 dunums of space are filled with stories that urge people near and far to learn about them.

The City's Historical Wall

It is an enormous wall that surrounded the Old City and was first constructed by the Canaanites. It was renovated several times over the centuries, and the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent constructed it last. The wall is between 11.6 and 12.2 meters high and 4300 meters long. Noteworthy, it is 500 years old and features 36 defense towers in both the northwest and north.

The City's Doors and Neighborhoods

Bab Al-Amoud, Bab Al-Asbat, Bab Al-Khalil, Bab Al-Nabi Dawood, Bab Al-Maghreba, Bab Al-Jadeed, and Bad Al-Sahera are the seven open doorways in Al-Quds' Old City.

Currently, there are four major neighborhoods. These quarters—the Muslim, Armenian, Jewish, and Christian—were given new names by Europeans who split the city along religious lines. The town also contains 38 neighborhoods, some of which, like Nasara, Maghareba, and Al Saedeya, are named after countries or nationalities that have visited the area.

Sacred Landmarks

The Old City includes Islamic and Christian holy sites, the most notable of which is Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa; the First Qiblat, the third of Al-Haramain (the third holiest Masjid in Islam), and the Misra (ascension place) of Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him).

Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa takes approximately one-sixth of the Old City's space, and it has seven prayer halls. They are known as the following: the Marwani, the old Al-Aqsa, the Al-Buraq, the Al-Maghareba, and the Women's Mosque, as well as the Dome of the Rock.

Moreover, there are 200 significant landmarks, including domes, arcades, mihrabs (a niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the qibla), pulpits, minarets, and wells. On the other hand, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre represents the Christian landmarks of the city. Along with this and that, the city contains many neighborhoods, alleys, and Jerusalemite markets.

Occupation's Violations in the City

Ihab Jalad, an expert in the history of Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa and Al-Quds, tells the PALM Strategic Initiatives Centre that the occupation is carrying out numerous crimes in the Old City. The most significant of which is the settlement, manifested in taking over the houses of the Palestinians. In this regard, numerous neighborhoods in the city, including those near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa, have seen the seizure of dozens of homes, in order to Judaize the City.

Among the violations conducted by the Israeli occupation are the excavations underneath the Old City. There are also 8 tunnels under the Buraq Wall, the Armenian Quarter, the Bab Al-Amoud, the Al-Sahera door, etc.

The occupation is predicated on the area's conversion into Jewish settlement amenities, with several tunnels containing Jewish churches and Talmudic Biblical shrines. The Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa, Silwan, and buildings in the Old City of Al-Quds all have fissures in their walls, floors, and structures as a result of these excavations.

The Old City continues to experience ongoing violations from the Israeli occupation. To wit, many of its young people are becoming martyrs, being arrested, and many of its citizens are being ejected. Additionally, hundreds of homes, shops, and facilities are being destroyed by the occupation. Despite this, the city has refused to surrender and is still standing strong in the face of the occupation.