09.14.07

Jerusalem Affairs: Mounting Temple Mount Pressure

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:12 am by Steve

More groups demand that unsupervised work on Temple Mount come to an immediate stop.

It is being called some of the most extensive work on the Temple Mount in more than a decade. The two-month-old dig on the Temple Mount is being carried out by Islamic officials – with Israeli approval – as part of infrastructure repair, to fix faulty electrical lines on the ancient compound.

A group of independent Israeli archeologists has petitioned the High Court of Justice to stop it, however – something that has received scant coverage in the international press.

The work, which is being carried out with the approval of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the state-run Antiquities Authority, has been repeatedly condemned by local archeologists, claiming that antiquities are being damaged, and calling for its immediate cessation.

“The Israeli government is lending a hand to the destruction of one of the most important archeological sites in the world,” said Bar-Ilan University archeologist Dr. Gabriel Barkai.

Barkai said that the dig, which is being carried out with tractors and other heavy construction machinery, has created a 400-meter long and 1.5-meter deep trench on the site, destroying several layers of ancient remains.

Among the antiquities which have been damaged is a seven-meter-wide wall which apparently dates back to the Second Temple, and is likely to have been part of its courts, he said.

Islamic officials have said that the digging of the trench was necessary to replace decades-old electrical cables, and deny that any antiquities have been damaged.

Wakf director Azzam Khatib said that the work followed an electrical shortage in the Aksa Mosque.

“There is no damage to antiquities here,” he said.

Islamic officials routinely deny that the ancient Jewish Temples even existed at the site, while Antiquities Authority spokeswoman Dalit Menzin has repeatedly declined to comment on the issue.

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