- See muqata'ah for the Ottoman instrument for financing state expenses.
Mukataa (Arabic: المقاطعة, "District") is an Arabic word for headquarters or administrative center. 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 National 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.
The Mukataa in Ramallah, built in the 1920s during the British Mandate by the British engineer Sir Charles Tegart, was a military headquarters, a court of law and a prison. In May 1948, Jordan took over, and used the compound again as a prison and as a residence for Jordanian army officers and their families. From the occupation in 1967 it was the Israeli military headquarters, until the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994. In 1996, Arafat moved in and the Mukataa became the official West Bank headquarters, known as Arafat's compound.
Israeli siege of March 2002
On 29 March 2002, the Israel Defense Forces raided the compound and placed it under siege during Operation Defensive Shield. The Israeli army destroyed the offices of three security services, along with a VIP guesthouse, a prison, sleeping quarters for guards, a large kitchen, a car repair shop and a large meeting hall.
The siege was lifted on 2 May after 6 men wanted by Israel for the assassination of the Israeli tourism minister Rehavam Zeevi, were handed over. The US-brokered plan was to enable Israel to avoid angering the United States over the Israeli Cabinet decision to bar a UN fact-finding mission from investigating allegations surrounding Israeli army actions in Jenin refugee camp during operation Rampart.
Siege of 6 June 2002
On 6 June 2002, the IDF executed a new siege and attacked the headquarters with tanks, bulldozers and armored vehicles. Arafat's office building was partly destroyed, besides other parts of the compound.
Siege of September 2002
On 19 September 2002, was again placed under siege. During the next ten days, the IDF destroyed all of the buildings that had survived the former sieges with bulldozers and explosives, including the main interior ministry building. Only part of the building where Arafat and his people remained was left.
UN Under-Secretary-General Terje Rød-Larsen, one of the architects of the Oslo Accords, said that the Israeli army's siege of Yasser Arafat amid the ruins of his bulldozed presidential compound could mean "the death" of hopes for a Palestinian state and a peace agreement. He alluded to the possible death of the two-state solution and said that "we're moving in the direction of state destruction and not state-building".
The siege re-ignited Palestinian support for Yasser Arafat. Israel ignored a UN security council resolution, which called for an immediate end to the siege. The compound remained under siege until Arafat's transfer in October 2004, for medical care in a French hospital.
Temporary burial-place of Arafat
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.
Following Arafat's death on 11 November 2004, 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 12 November, in a temporary manner. On 11 November 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, if it comes under Palestinian control.
- mukataa. webster-dictionary.org. Retrieved 15-10-2013
- Inside Arafat's compound of rubble. BBC, 22 September 2002
- Arafat siege to end as handover agreed. Telegraph, 1 May 2002
- Arafat Siege Could End Soon. CBS, 29 April 2002
- Documents, working papers. 2002, vol. 4: Documents 9396-9428: working papers, 2002 ordinary session (second part), 22–26 April 2002, Vol. 4: Documents 9396-9428, p. 207. Council of Europe: Parliamentary Assembly Published by Council of Europe, 2002 ISBN 92-871-4917-8
- Israelis leave Arafat compound after raid. CNN, 6 June 2002
- Yasser Arafat amid the ruins. The Economist, 26 September 2002
- Israeli siege of Arafat ′is killing peace hope′ at the Wayback Machine (archived June 1, 2004). Justin Huggler, The Independent, 28 September 2002
- Siege continues at Arafat's HQ. Mark Willacy, ABC, 23 September 2002
- Resolution 1435 (2002), Adopted by the Security Council at its 4614th meeting, on 24 September 2002
- Israel defies UN vote demanding end to Arafat siege. Jonathan Steele, Guardian, 25 September 2002
- IDF Bulldozers tear down the Mukataa (Waronline.org Forums)
- "Arafat buried in Ram Allah" (Aljazeera)