Shocking footage from the scene in Jerusalem’s old town shows smoke billowing from the roof of the Marwani Prayer Hall, also known as Solomon’s Stables. The Palestine News Agency reported: “The fire broke out in the guard’s room outside the roof of the Marwani Prayer Room and the fire brigade of the Islamic Waqf handled the matter successfully.” Solomon’s Stables is at the bottom of the stairs, which lead down from the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which has the capacity to hold 5,000 people.
The historic room is thought to have been built by King Herod, who is said to have been the king of Judea when Jesus was born.
The mosque was built on top of the Temple Mount, known as Haram esh-Sharif in Islam, and also contains the Dome of the Rock.
Monday’s fire was contained quickly, and no injuries or damage was reported to the 2000-year-old holy worship site.
The blaze came on the same night one of Europe’s most famous Christian sites burned in Paris, with the spire collapsing in to the abyss of flames.
But many valuable art works were saved after more than 400 firemen worked to contain the blaze, finally quelling it 14 hours after it began.
As the city and the country grieved for a potent national symbol, billionaires, companies and local authorities have been quick to offer donations.
And French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to rebuild the fire-devastated Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral, saying he hoped the work would be done in five years and the French people would pull together to repair their national symbol.
Mr Macron devoted a brief prime-time televised address to Monday’s catastrophic blaze in the heart of the capital.
He said: “We will rebuild Notre-Dame even more beautifully and I want it to be completed in five years, we can do it.
“It is up to us to convert this disaster into an opportunity to come together, having deeply reflected on what we have been and what we have to be and become better than we are. It is up to us to find the thread of our national project.”
Speaking after the mosque fire, President Mahmoud Abbas’ office expressed its “deep regret’ over the devastating Notre Dame fire, according to the Palestine News Agency.
It added: “The Presidency confirmed its solidarity and sympathy with our friends in France over this incident.”
The cause of the fire was thought to be an accident.
Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, director general of the Jerusalem Waqf and Al-Aqsa Mosque Affairs Department, said it could have been started by children messing around in the area.