France's iconic Notre Dame Cathedral was not the only holy site that caught fire Monday. While a massive blaze was ravaging the Cathedral, a fire also broke out at al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the third-holiest site in Islam. The fire endangered a part of the worship site while not causing significant damage, according to reports.
"The fire broke out in the guard's room outside the roof of the Marwani Prayer Room," Palestinian news agency WAFA said, noting that the "fire brigade of the Islamic Waqf handled the matter successfully."
It said the fire was caused by youths playing with fire, without providing further details. Responding to the incident, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas underscored the need to preserve the compound's "great religious and humanitarian value." Al-Aqsa Mosque is considered to be the third-holiest place by Muslims, after Mecca and Medina. Muslims believe that the first qiblah, the direction which Muslims turn to during their daily prayers, was Al-Aqsa until it was changed to Mecca. Moreover, the existence of the Qubbat-us Sahra within the compound makes it more special as it is believed that the Prophet Muhammad started his spiritual journey to the heavens (miraj) from that place. Since Israel occupied Jerusalem in 1967 the conflict has continued between Palestinians and Israelis, as the latter believe that the holy temple of Solomon is beneath the mosque. There are several rumors claiming that Israelis were digging canals to reach the temple's ruins.
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