Mukataa

Mukataa

See muqata'ah for the Ottoman instrument for financing state expenses.

Mukataa (also spelled Muqataa, Arabic المقاطعة) is a compound of buildings which contains governmental offices and local administrative headquarters. The term Mukataa literally means "something separated" in Arabic, and in English is most commonly used to describe Palestinian government bureau and centers.

Palestinian Mukataas were mostly built during the British Mandate as Tegart forts and were used both as British government centers and as dwellings for the British administrative staff. Some Mukataas also included police stations and prisons. After the British left, the buildings often functioned similarly under the Jordanians, and then the Israelis.

After the Oslo Accords, the Mukataas were used as governmental offices and headquarters for the Palestinian Authority. The Mukaatas in Ramallah and Gaza, the two major Palestinian cities, were also used as headquarters to the high Palestinian Authority leadership, including as office for Yasser Arafat, long-time Palestinian Authority president.

During Operation Defensive Shield in April 2002, the Israeli Defence Forces raided the Mukataas in the West Bank. Some Mukataas, including the Mukataa in Hebron, were entirely demolished. The Mukataa in Ramallah was partially destroyed.

Arafat's compound

The Mukataa in Ramallah, also known as Arafat's Compound was raided by the Israel Defense Forces and later placed under siege. Palestinians asserted that weapons in the compound belonged to the guard and security services. The Mukataa in Ramallah was later partly demolished by IDF armored bulldozers in order to isolate Arafat's headquarters and lay siege to him and his associates, some of whom were wanted by Israel for alleged terrorist activities. Other buildings and shacks were torn down in order to expose illegal weapons, ammunition and explosives.

At the time of his departure for medical care in Paris in October 2004, Arafat was under house arrest in the compound for over two years. In the early days of November, when it was clear his death was near, several locations were mentioned as possible burial sites. Jerusalem was the first choice, but Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said he would not allow this; and so, following Arafat's death on November 11, the Palestinian leadership decided that he was to be "temporarily" interred in the Mukataa compound, pending the establishment of a Palestinian state and the transfer of his body to the Dome of the Rock compound on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Plans for Arafat to lie in state at the Mukataa prior to burial were canceled, because thousands of emotional mourners overwhelmed Palestinian security forces. Arafat was buried within the compound on November 12, 2004, in a temporary manner. On November 11, 2007, a larger tomb clad in Jerusalem stone, and designed by Palestinian architects opened to the public. The message on the tomb indicated that the final resting place of Arafat shall be in Jerusalem, once it comes under Palestinian control.

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