I got lost in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood a few years ago when many parts of Jerusalem were still new to me.
What surprised me that day was that religious kids were playing on swings and stuff in a playground surrounded by three old Arab buildings.
The minaret marked one building as a long-abandoned mosque.
The sign warned not the enter the dangerous building which according to the drawing was liable to collapse.
Even then the doors had anti-Arab sentiments scrawled on them.
A second old building was also locked up.
The third building really raised my curiosity!
Plants growing on the dome.
It was clearly very old and once-grand.
I stuck the camera through the window bars and the flash revealed a neglected interior.
Back home, I could find no information about the place and it remained a mystery for me.
Until today, that is.
Today I read in Haaretz that
The Nebi Akasha mosque, apparently built under the Ayyubid dynasty in the 12th century with additions made under the Mamluk dynasty in the 13th century. It is believed that the mosque was founded on the burial site of combatants in Saladin’s army, though an ancient tradition designates the site as the place where Akasha, a friend of the Prophet Muhammad, was buried.
They also say it was abandoned in the 1948 War of Independence and was recently renovated and turned into a municipal storage facility.
Learning this history was the only good thing to come out of the worrying events of the last few days.
Last night vandals tried to set fire to the mosque (I think it was the newer mosque, the one in my first photo) and sprayed anti-Islam graffiti on it and the second building.
The media did not explain it well, especially the foreign papers; and if you had never been to this small compound/playground, it would be hard to understand.
More about the young right-wing extremists' violence, including an attack on an Israeli (!) army base, can be found here .
The so-called "price tag" attacks.
UPDATE: See here how 15 teenaged students later came to help remove the hate graffiti .
UPDATE Feb. 2013: Fascinating history of the place from a Jewish viewpoint in the blog "Let us tour Eretz Yisroel."