December 14, 2011 Wednesday 18 Kislev 5772
by jpost.com staff and Melanie Lidman
One option discussed for bridge's opening is to have fire truck permanently fixed inside the Western Wall plaza to negate fire hazard.
Police in Jerusalem decided to reopen the Mugrabi Bridge connecting the Western Wall Plaze to the Temple Mount on Wednesday. The move comes as National Union MKs Arye Eldad and Uri Ariel announced their intention to ascend to the Temple Mount complex via the bridge Wednesday morning.
One option discussed ahead of the opening was to have a fire truck stationed at the Western Wall plaza, as the wooden structure is considered extremely flammable.
Fire trucks have difficulty accessing the area, but a truck permanently positioned there would cut response time.
The municipality, for its part, slammed reports in the Hebrew media that the bridge would be opened this week, with structural changes to improve its safety or fire trucks on hand.
While the changes might satisfy the safety requirements from the city engineer's point of view, they would only provide a temporary solution to an ongoing problem, the municipality said Tuesday before the reopening was announced.
"The ineffectiveness demonstrated by the Israeli government in dealing with the hazardous, ugly and dilapidated bridge in the heart of the Western Wall plaza is quite unfortunate," a municipal spokesman said.
The spokesman insisted that the "proper procedure" would be to replace the old bridge with a new ramp in the same place.
A senior official in the Prime Minister's Office denied that a final decision had been made about fixing or replacing the bridge, or possibly opening another entrance to the Temple Mount for non-Muslims.
"People are looking at different ideas to try to solve the problem," the official said. "On one hand, the bridge has to function, and the bridge at the moment is dangerous, so in the interests of public safety it's got to be repaired. On other hand we're very aware of sensitivities, and we want to do what we can to mitigate the possibility that extremists would exploit the situation."
National Union MKs Uri Ariel and Arye Eldad and a group of right-wing activists plan to use the Mugrabi bridge to enter the Temple Mount tomorrow morning.