The Temple Institute: Arabs Continue to Remove Relics of Ancient Temple Era



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Arabs Continue to Remove Relics of Ancient Temple Era

reprinted from Arutz 7
14 Elul 5767, 28 August 07

( Muslim Arabs in Jerusalem have resumed Temple Mount construction work, resulting in the removal of tons of debris that includes remnants of the First and Second Temple periods. The Antiquities Authority has blamed the police for not supervising the work and stopping the removal of valuable and irreplaceable remnants of the era. Police responded that Antiquities officials authorized the work, which includes digging a trench more than 400 feet long and five feet deep.

Archaeologists Slam Authorities Over Muslim Dig

reprinted from The Jerusalem Post
Aug. 28, 2007

by Etgar Lefkovits

A group of Israeli archaeologists on Monday renewed their blistering condemnation of the Antiquities Authority for authorizing Muslim officials to carry out a dig on Jerusalem's Temple Mount with tractors and other heavy equipment as part of infrastructure work to repair faulty electrical lines on the ancient compound.

The work started last month on the northern section of the Temple Mount in the area of the outer courts of the ancient Jewish Temples with the approval of the Israel Police and the state-run Antiquities Authority, Israeli and Islamic officials said. Independent Israeli archaeologists said that the work left a 100-meter-long and roughly 1-1.5 meter deep trench, and has damaged the site.

"This is a barbaric action on the most sensitive place in archaeology of the Jewish nation," said Bar-Ilan University archaeologist Dr. Gabriel Barkai, a member of the Committee Against the Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount.

Barkai said that work carried out at the site on Monday - which eyewitnesses say was done with an Antiquties Authority official present - was the most damaging to date.

"If this was done with the Antiquities Authority supervision it is even worse, because the crime was done before our very eyes," he added.

The non-partisan group of Israeli archaeologists and intellectuals from across the political spectrum has previously lambasted Israel's chief archaeological body for permitting the work at the site but Monday's damage prompted them to issue their harshest criticism of the state-run archaeological body to date.

"It is outrageous that the Antiquities Authority is taking part in an archaeological crime by pretending they are supervising the site while they are in fact witnessing the crime as it takes place," said group spokeswoman Dr. Eilat Mazar, a leading Temple Mount expert.

Antiquities Authority spokeswoman Dalit Menzin declined to comment on the issue.

According to decades-old regulations in place at the Temple Mount, Israel maintains overall security control at the site, while the Wakf, or Islamic Trust, is charged with day- to-day administration of the ancient compound. Jerusalem police have said that in coordination with the Antiquities Authority they had given Islamic officials approval for the work.

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

The Antiquities Authority, which by law is charged with supervising Israel's archaeological sites, has in the past been criticized by the apolitical group of archaeologists for overlooking large-scale Islamic construction on the site which resulted in archaeological damage because of the political sensitivities involved.



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