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'Israel digging under Temple Mount'

reprinted from The Jerusalem Post
Oct. 7, 2009

A delegation from the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, as well as Arab MKs, toured Jerusalem's Aksa mosque on Wednesday morning, in the wake of Arab riots around the Old City holy sites.

Jerusalem police were advised of the visit in advance.

The leaders reiterated previous claims of Israeli archeological excavations under the Temple Mount, and reportedly promised to "keep the peace," as long as Muslims are not prevented from entering holy sites during Friday prayers.

After a relatively quiet day in the capital on Tuesday, Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitz called such claims "ludicrous," adding that forces outside of Jerusalem were operating to stir up religious tensions in the Old City.

"Ludicrous claims about excavations under the Temple Mount are an absolute lie," he said in the message. "To claim that the Jews are digging [under] the Temple Mount site is like claiming that day is night."

This latest upswing in violence began on Sunday morning when some 150 Muslims threw rocks and bottles at police after being denied entry to the Temple Mount compound for morning prayers at the Aksa Mosque.

Security forces had decided to close off the compound after calls for Muslim men to come and "defend the mount" had circulated throughout east Jerusalem and Arab villages in northern Israel over the weekend.

In addition, a police patrol on the Temple Mount early Sunday morning had discovered wheelbarrows filled with rocks, which led security forces to believe that riots had been planned in advance of Sunday's prayers.

Abe Selig contributed to this report



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