Israeli Forces Surround al-Aqsa Mosque

Could Dome of the Rock create harmony?

Fighting Over Control in the Holy City

Jerusalem, Israel

September 8, 2013

Maal Ashkar and Shi Shi



Architecture can be based on not only a building, but its surroundings as well. Urban planning plays an important part to a city and its buildings. The architecture can be affected and viewed differently just by simply looking at a map. Not only does a map and plan make all the difference, but the antiquity and history of the region. A perfect example of this type of architecture is the existence of the Dome of the Rock, which also goes by the names of Al-Aqsa and Temple Mount.

Israeli Attack on Worshippers in Al-Aqsa. N.d. Photograph. AlmanarWeb. 15 Sep 2013. .
Israeli Attack on Worshippers in Al-Aqsa. N.d. Photograph. AlmanarWeb. 15 Sep 2013. <>.


The Dome of the Rock is also in the news for its controversy in Jerusalem, Israel earlier this month. It has said that the Israeli police have been attacking Palestinian worshippers in the city of Jerusalem (“Israeli forces surround al-Aqsa mosque” September 04, 2013). Israeli forces “had detained several Palestinian Muslim worshippers inside and were firing tear gas, (“Israeli forces surround al-Aqsa mosque” September 04, 2013).”

Israel Attacks Al-Aqsa. N.d. Photograph. The Muslim UnityWeb. 15 Sep 2013. .
Israel Attacks Al-Aqsa. N.d. Photograph. The Muslim UnityWeb. 15 Sep 2013. <>.


Before explaining any further about the importance of the role of the Dome of the Rock, the history of Jerusalem, also known as one of the world’s oldest cities, plays a significant part as well. Dating back as far as three thousand years ago, the “Old City” as we know births the three major religions – Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Jerusalem has long history construction, capture and destruction due to these religions and reigns, as well.


The first settlements date back to the year 3500 BCE (“Timeline for the History of Jerusalem” January 1999). King David conquers Jerusalem in 1000 BCE, and his son, King Solomon, builds First Temple in the Old City in 960 BCE (“Timeline for the History of Jerusalem” January 1999). The Babylonians then destruct Jerusalem four hundred years later, and the Jews were exiled. After the Persians conquer Jerusalem from the Babylonian Empire, King Cyrus allowed the Jews to return. The Second Temple was built in 516 BCE (“Timeline for the History of Jerusalem” January 1999). After Jesus is crucified in 30 CE, the Romans destroyed and rebuilt Jerusalem as a Roman city in the year 135 CE. All the Jews were forced to leave the holy city (“Jerusalem: 4000 Years,” May 30 2011). It was a back and forth battle with many different societies to capture and obtain the holy land. After the Persians captured Jerusalem in 614 CE, the Byzantine Christians recaptured Jerusalem fifteen years later (“Timeline for the History of Jerusalem” January 1999).


The first sign of Islam in Jerusalem doesn’t occur until 691 CE, and the Dome of the Rock is built in 691 CE (“Jerusalem: 4000 Years,” May 30 2011). More civilizations follow to recapture the holy land. The Crusaders capture the Holy City in 1099 CE. In 1187 CE, Saladin takes it back for the Muslims. The Crusaders briefly try to seize the holy land a couple more times, but it falls back to the Muslims (“Timeline for the History of Jerusalem” January 1999).

Israel Map. N.d. Photograph. Asia AtlasWeb. 15 Sep 2013. .
Israel Map. N.d. Photograph. Asia AtlasWeb. 15 Sep 2013. <>.


Looking at a much more larger scale, present-day Israel is located in the Middle East. Before Israel ever became a country, there was a country named Palestine. Palestine has been around since the year 70 CE (“Timeline for the History of Jerusalem” January 1999). Most of the Palestinians are of the Arabic descent, and a large amount of the Palestinians are Muslims. A few of the populations Arabs are Christians. Palestine has never been noticed as an independent country until the 1990’s because of all the occupations in this land. After the British captured the holy land from the Ottoman Empire in 1917, Britain had established a national home for the Jewish people (“Jerusalem: 4000 Years,” May 30 2011). Slowly more and more Jews resided in Palestine. After the devastation of the Holocaust in World War II, the Jewish population took refuge in the land of Palestine. In 1948, the state of Israel was established (“Timeline for the History of Jerusalem” January 1999) after the Arab-Israeli War.

Following the Arab-Israeli War in 1948, Jordan captured the Old City and the Jewish inhabitants were dispossessed. Israel evoked the Old City during the Six Day War in 1967 (“Jerusalem: 4000 Years,” May 30 2011). The old city was divided into four uneven quarters for the different religions – the Muslim Quarter, the Christian Quarter, the Jewish Quarter, and the Armenian Quarter.

Jerusalem Muslim Quarter. 2007. Photograph. WikipediaWeb. 15 Sep 2013. .
Jerusalem Muslim Quarter. 2007. Photograph. WikipediaWeb. 15 Sep 2013. <>.




The Armenian Quarter is the smallest of the four quarters. “Although the Armenians are Christian, the Armenian Quarter is distinct from the Christian Quarter, (“Old City,” August 6 2013).” “The Muslim Quarter is the largest and most populous of the four quarters, (“Old City,” August 6 2013).”


The Dome of the Rock lies in between the Muslim Quarter and the Jewish Quarter. This mosque is very sacred to the Islamic culture. It represents their religion in the Old City. The Dome of the Rock and Jerusalem not only represents religion, but it is significant to the Islamic party for its culture, spirit, and history. However, the Dome of the Rock sits in the territory of the Old City in Jerusalem, which is governed by the Israelis. The city of Jerusalem is so important to both the Palestinians and Israelis that it is the capital for both countries. Because of its long history the holy city is so significant that is the dream and ideal capital. The cause of this whole conflict is the Holy City’s history and the Jews occupation in the homeland of the Palestinians.

In today’s current events, the Israelis have forbidden the Arabs access to the Dome of the Rock Mosque. According to Ahul Bayt News Agency, “the Zionist government have adopted strict security measures since Tuesday, 3rd of September to monitor the movement of Palestinians in Al-Aqsa mosque (“Zionists Banned Entrance of Under 50 Years in Al-Aqsa Mosque,” September 7 2013).” The Israelis occupation of this territory in the Old City is to prove authority and to take control.

In a different setting, Germany built a religious facility that accommodates a synagogue, church, and a mosque in 2010. The goal of the project was to “bring together people of different origins by exhibitions, symposiums, concerts and children playing together (“Synagogue Church Mosque” July 10, 2012).” Maybe using this idea in architecture could help resolve this problem. If the Dome of the Rock had any special meaning to the Jewish population, maybe the Jews would not attack it. They would see its importance and not take down the Dome of the Rock. Maybe like the facility in Germany, not only would two religions come together, but two countries could unite.

Old City Plan. N.d. Photograph. WikitravelWeb. 15 Sep 2013. .
Old City Plan. N.d. Photograph. WikitravelWeb. 15 Sep 2013. <>.

The Dome of the Rock plays a node in this architectural setting. The urban plan is shifting from the Jewish Quarter towards the Muslim Quarter, taking the Dome of the Rock with it. Using the Dome of the Rock, can the two polar opposite sides of both Islamic and Jewish parties be brought together using the historic architecture?











 Ahlul Bayt News Agency, “Zionists Banned Entrance of Under 50 Years in Al-Aqsa Mosque.” Last modified September 07, 2013. Accessed September 9, 2013.

 “Zionist soldiers have taken strict security measures with reference to the first night of          New Hebrew year and they have prohibited the people of less than 50 years from going         to Al-Aqsa mosque.”  The Israeli party is showing their authority in the holy land and        trying to stop the Muslims from praying at the Dome of the Rock.

Jewish Virtual Library, “Timeline for the History of Jerusalem.” Last modified January 1999. Accessed September 14, 2013.

History plays an important role to the architecture aspect of the city. In Jerusalem, there has been many instances where there has been conquering, recapturing, building, construction, as well as destruction.

World Bulletin, “Israeli Police Clash with Worshippers Inside Al-Aqsa Mosque.” Last modified September 06, 2013. Accessed September 9, 2013.

“Scores of worshippers suffered gas inhalation on Friday after Israeli police stormed Al-        Aqsa Mosque compound following the weekly prayers and clashed with worshippers. A number of worshippers have been arrested by Israeli forces.” Israeli forces are using tactics to scare the Palestinian population to show that Israel is more powerful and   dominant than Palestine’s nation.

Encyclopedia Entries

Wikipedia, “Al-Aqsa Mosque.” Last modified September 05, 2013. Accessed September 8, 2013.

Muslim and Palestinians living in East Jerusalem are normally allowed to enter and pray at the al-Aqsa Mosque without restrictions. Israel occasionally prevents certain groups of Muslims from reaching al-Aqsa; the restrictions vary from time to time. At times restrictions have prevented all men under 50 and women under 45 from entering, but married men over 45 are allowed. Sometimes the restrictions are enforced on the occasion of Friday prayers, other times they are over an extended period of time. Restrictions are most severe for Gazans, followed by restrictions on those from West Bank. Israel states that the restrictions are in place for security reasons.

Wikipedia, “Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” Last modified August 29, 2013. Accessed September 9, 2013.–Palestinian_conflict.

Throughout the conflict, Palestinian violence has been a concern for Israelis. Israel, along with the United States and the European Union, refer to the violence against Israeli civilians and military forces by Palestinian militants as terrorism. The motivations behind Palestinian violence against Israeli civilians are multiplex, and not all violent Palestinian groups agree with each other on specifics, however a common motive is to eliminate the Jewish state and replace it with a Palestinian Arab state.

Wikipedia, “Old City (Jerusalem).” Last modified August 06, 2013. Accessed September 15, 2013.

The urban planning of the Old City is divided into quarters. Although the quarters are uneven, the mosque of the Dome of the Rock lies in between the Jewish Quarter and the Muslim Quarter. Because of Israel’s determination to show power and control, Israel is taking full control of the mosque.

 Scholarly Articles

Harol, Amos. Haaretz, “Years of Rage.” Last modified October 01, 2010. Accessed September 9,  2013.

This article discusses the conflict between Palestine and Israel. It states how the past ten    years has been the most violent and deadly of all war time. It also reflects how       Jerusalem is the most peaceful because of it holiness, which is also contradicting since             nothing seems to be sacred in the holy land.

Orthographic Documentation

ArchDaily, “Synagogue Church Mosque.” Last modified July 10, 2012. Accessed                 September 22, 2013.            mosque-agirbas-wienstroer/.

This article talks about how three religious facilities are all within the same site, yet civil towards one another. As many people know, the Dome of the Rock is an Islamic historic landmark, but if the Jewish people had their own part within the Dome of the Rock maybe Israeli forces won’t have to attack the Islamic mosque because it would also mean something to the Jews.

The Noble Sanctuary, “The Noble Sanctuary.” Accessed September 9, 2013. 

The entire area is regarded as a mosque and comprises nearly one sixth of the walled city of Jerusalem. This may or not be a reason for the Israeli population to take control of.

The Western Wall, “The Western Wall.” Accessed September 9, 2013.

It became a center of mourning over the destruction of the Temple and Israel’s exile, on the one hand, and of religious – in 20th century also national – communion with the memory of Israel’s former glory and the hope for its restoration, on the other. Because of the former association, it became known in European languages as the “Wailing Wall”.

Video and Audio

“Jerusalem: 4000 Years in 5 Minutes” May 30 2011. compact disc,

This video explains the history of the holy city of Jerusalem. It goes into detail about the many occupancies and hardships that the city faced over the years. It talks about the constructions of the synagogues, churches, and mosques in the old city. It leaves questions at the end when the last shot says , “Through out history, only Israel has protected the freedom of all peoples and faiths in Jerusalem,” which contradicts its self with today’s controversy with the containment of the Islamic mosque, Dome of the Rock.




Post a comment

You may use the following HTML:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>