TEL AVIV: The Hassan Bek Mosque, which is also known as the Hasan Bey Mosque, is a well-known historical structure commissioned by the Ottoman Empire’s Jaffa Governor Hassan al-Basri Aljabi in the Palestinian city of Jaffa in 1914. Located on the borders of the Neve Tzedek neighborhood in Israel’s capital Tel Aviv today, the mosque has survived the test of time despite various attacks since the beginning of Israel’s aggression against Palestinians.
The mosque with Ottoman-style architecture was ordered to be built in the then Manshiyya neighborhood. While the Manshiyya neighborhood of Ottoman Palestine was completely destroyed by Zionist gangs that were part of the founding elements of Israel, Hassan Bek Mosque was saved from demolition for fear of a harsh response from the international community.
Established in 1948 on a large part of historical Palestinian lands, the state of Israel administratively connects the city of Jaffa to the municipality of the capital Tel Aviv. Israel included old Jaffa city under Tel Aviv’s local administrative management and the doors of the Hassan Bek Mosque were closed to Muslims. Palestinians recall that the mosque was used as a barn and animal shelter for a long time and had become a place frequented by drug addicts.
Having been cut off from Muslim community with later-built hostels and entertainment venues around the mosque, it was reopened for worship in the late 1970s by the Muslims residing in Jaffa.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), the imam of Hassan Bek Mosque, Sheikh Ahmad Abu Ajwa, said Israel is trying to destroy the Arab-Islamic identity of the historically Palestinian lands.
“Nothing is left of the Manshiyya neighborhood except this mosque, which has witnessed history,” he said, adding all of this happened after the Nakba (catastrophe), referring to the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948 when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced or fled their homes.
Stressing that the mosque was closed to worship right after the establishment of Israel, Abu Ajwa said: “The Hassan Bek Mosque in the Manshiyya neighborhood, where Palestinians were subjected to forced migration, was abandoned to its fate by Jewish gangs … and it was subjected to repeated attacks.” He noted that the mosque’s prayer area has a capacity of approximately 3,000 people.
“Hassan Bek Mosque is literally an Ottoman masterpiece. Whoever looks at the structure of the mosque, from its entrance to its pulpit and mihrab (a semicircular niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the qibla, that is, the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca), will see that it is a giant Ottoman work.
However, all Palestinians, particularly the people of occupied Jerusalem, and our brothers and sisters in Turkey have been providing full support to this mosque,” he added.
Turkey’s Mirasımız (Our Heritage) Association, which works on the preservation of Ottoman heritage in Jerusalem and its adjacent territories, in partnership with the Al-Aqsa Foundation, founded by Palestinian citizens of Israel, restored the east and northeast facades of the mosque and reconstructed the southeast wall of the mosque in accordance with Ottoman architecture in 2009.