Moslem Inciters Accuse Israel of Undermining Al-Aksa
reprinted from Arutz Sheva
by Scott Shiloh
Moslem incitement on the Temple Mount has reached new depths, so to speak, as the chief cleric of the Al-Aksa mosque accuses Israel of building a synagogue under the mosque.
The cleric, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, said at a news conference on Tuesday that Israel was building the synagogue in order to cause the mosque to collapse.
Israel has formally denied the charges, stating categorically that nothing at all was being developed under the mosque, let alone a synagogue.
A key speaker at the conference was Sheikh Ekrema Sabri, who holds the position of "General Mufti for Jerusalem and Palestine" for the Palestinian Authority.
Sabri told Wafa, the news agency for the Palestine Liberation Organization (the PA's umbrella organization), that "the Israeli authorities have been exploiting the big gates of the western side of Al-Aqsa since 1996 through conducting a series of excavation works which ended with clandestinely erecting a synagogue."
Another speaker at the news conference was Sheikh Raed Salah, head of Israel's Islamic movement in the Galilee. Salah recently finished serving jail time after being convicted of providing assistance to a terrorist organization.
Salah threatened that Israel will be faced with war with the entire Moslem world for opening and excavating an underground tunnel parallel to the Western Wall. That tunnel has been opened to tourists since 1996.
Regarding the purported synagogue, Salah said it contained a model of the Temple and was located 27 meters from the Mosque of Omar, located roughly on the site where the Temple once stood.
Sabri said that the construction of the synagogue, which he described as having five rooms, "proves that the Israelis did not find any sign of the Temple. That is why they made up some rooms to vaguely narrate their religious history."
The Palestinian Authority has repeatedly used attempts to deny the existence the Jewish Temples as a means to bolster their claim that the Jewish people have no legitimate rights to the land of Israel or Jerusalem.
The PA's denial of the Temple's existence was raised in the negotiations that took place at Camp David in the summer of 2000, just before the outbreak of the Oslo War. The issue was one of the factors leading to the breakdown of the talks.
Leading Israeli archaeologists and Biblical scholars have accused the Moslem Wakf, or religious trust, of deliberately attempting to wipe out the archaeological remains of the Temple. Over the past few years, the Wakf has been carrying out large-scale excavations on the Mount, especially beneath the Al-Aksa mosque, in an effort to expand the size of the mosque to accommodate thousands of worshippers.
Much of the earth excavated from that project, which is suspected of containing rich archaeological remains dating from the First and Second Temples, has been dumped as garbage at Jerusalem refuse sites.
Israel Denies Temple Mount Excavation
reprinted from The Jerusalem Post
by Etgar Lefkovits
Israel dismissed as "blatant lies" and "preposterous and unfounded allegations" claims voiced by the top Muslim religious authority in Jerusalem and the firebrand leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel Tuesday that Israel built a synagogue and was trying to destroy a mosque on the Temple Mount by its recently-completed construction of a visitor's center near the Western Wall.
Islamic leaders have been fuming for weeks now over Israel's recent construction of the visitor's center, adjacent to the Western Wall tunnels, angered over the project which highlights Judaism's connection to Jerusalem and the Western Wall.
The lavish new state of the art tourist center at the Western Wall tunnels incorporates ancient and modern Jewish history and includes an elaborate sound and light show that highlight both recent discoveries of artifacts and infrastructure dating back thousands of years.
The high-tech center, which aims to link the past with the future in an effort to reach out to Israeli youth, includes one of the world's oldest aqueducts, a ritual bath from the Second Temple period, a First Temple wall, as well as exhibits on modern day Jewish history, such as the Holocaust and Israel's fallen soldiers.
The top Muslim clergyman, or mufti, of Jerusalem, Ikrema Sabri, on Tuesday called the archaeological project an "aggression" that threatened the mosque compound and demanded an immediate end to the digs.
"These violations and aggression lead to tension in the region," he said at a Jerusalem press conference.
Sheik Raed Salah, a radical leader of Israel's Islamic Movement, who was freed from prison last year after serving a two year sentence for a series of security offenses including financing Hamas activities called the construction a "black stain" on Israel and accused the government of plotting to destroy the mosques to build a new temple.
Salah who heads the extremist northern branch of the Islamic Movement of Israeli Arabs which denies Israel's legitimacy has repeatedly warned supporters in the past that "Al-Aksa is in danger" and that Israeli extremists intended to attack the mosque at the Jerusalem holy site.
"These are lies, and there is nothing behind what they are saying," Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch said Tuesday.
"Archaeological excavations have never been carried out, and are not being carried out today, under the Temple Mount compound," Israel's Antiquities Authority said in a statement.
Though nearby, the visitor's center is hundreds of meters away from the Temple Mount compound.
The Islamic leaders' tirade comes just weeks after the Palestinian Authority's official website lambasted the construction project in a report that called into question Judaism's very connection to Jerusalem.
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