Flags of the Al Qaeda terror group are flying atop the Kotel Hakatan (“Small Kotel”), a remnant of the retaining wall of the Temple Mount that is a continuation of the Western Wall, located in the Muslim Quarter. The Kotel Hakatan is adjacent to one of the entrances to the Temple Mount.
Meanwhile, said Avichail Weizmann, a resident of the Old City and a student at Hakotel Yeshiva in the Jewish Quarter, municipal signs and other symbols of Israeli sovereignty are torn down or destroyed on a regular basis, and that includes signs in the area of the Kotel Hakatan, which he visits frequently. Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Weizmann said that he had contacted city officials numerous times about the issue, but so far to no avail.
Two weeks ago, Weizmann said that he noticed several flags with Arabic writing flying over the Kotel Hakatan – a flag which turned out to be the symbol of Al Qaeda. He filed a complaint with police, which sent out an investigator – who concluded that the flags were actually signs of a “religious nature” and as such none of the police department's business. According to Weizmann, the flags are stil there.
In a recent interview, Mati Dan, chairman of the Ateret Cohanim organization, said that the Religious Affairs Ministry was taking responsibility for the Kotel Hakatan. According to Dan, the decision was made on Monday, the eve of the Fast of the 9th of Av. “After a year of discussions on who will take responsibility for this site, the Knesset Interior Committee, chaired by MK Miri Regev, managed to get the government to take charge,” said Dan. “This is in line with the laws regarding the administration of holy places, which is the Ministry's responsibility.”
In another recent move, the Justice Ministry said that anyone who wave the flags or display other symbols associated with ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah, or other terror organizations – like Al Qaeda - will be subject to arrest and prosecution. “When such flags and symbols are displayed police must judge if there is a possibility of public disorder or disturbance, or of danger to the public,” Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said in a letter. “If there is, police should take steps to remove the flags. In appropriate cases, charges may be made against perpetrators,” the letter added.
However, the Al Qaeda flags flying at the Kotel Hakatan seem to have fallen through the cracks, said Weizmann. When he first complained in the summer, Weizmann said, the municipality told him that they would deal with it only after the Muslim month of Ramadan, in order not to inflate tensions. Then, he said, the city's excuse was not to raise tensions during Operation Protective Edge. Now that the operation is over, the city has run out of excuses – but still refuses to act.
Seeing those flags, he added, lends a very unholy atmosphere to the site - “even though it is the most accessible site closest to the Holy of Holies, the most important part of the Holy Temple,” he added.