Israel archaeologists fear damage at Jerusalem dig
Published: 08.29.07, 16:01 / Israel Jewish Scene
Archaeologists says priceless relics could be damaged by mechanical digger being used by Muslim caretakers to carve out utility trench at one of capital's holiest shrines.
Israeli archaeologists said on Wednesday they fear priceless relics could be damaged by a mechanical digger being used by Muslim caretakers to carve out a utility trench at one of Jerusalem's holiest shrines.
The work is being carried out on the plaza revered by Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) and by Jews as the Temple Mount.
"It is appalling that in one of the most important archaeological sites in the country, heavy machinery is used in a barbaric way to dig a ditch 120 meters long and 1.5 meters deep," said Gabriel Barkay, an archaeologist at Bar-Ilan University near Tel Aviv.
He and other members of the Israeli-based Committee Against the Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount, have criticized Israel's Antiquities Authority for allowing the Waqf, the Muslim caretakers of the site, to conduct the work.
Dalit Menzin, a spokeswoman for the Antiquities Authority, an Israeli government agency, declined to comment.
Sheikh Abdel al-Azeem Salhab, president of the Waqf Council, which is charged with day-to-day administration of the compound, denied the digging would cause any archaeological damage.
The trench is being dug to replace decades-old electric wiring at the complex, which now houses the al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock Mosques and was the site during biblical times of two Jewish Temples.
The future of the compound, on land Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war, is at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"I assure you that the area where the electrical cables are being extended was excavated in the past and there is nothing of value in it that can be damaged or destroyed," Salhab said.
Barkay said earth from the trench contained pottery shards dating to the Byzantine period. He cautioned that more relics still underground could be harmed.
Christian, Muslim and Jewish heritage could "fall victim to this heinous act", Barkay said.
The site is in East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed in a move that is not recognized internationally. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of the state they hope to establish in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
In Febuary, an Israeli dig intended to salvage ancient artifacts before construction of a new walkway leading to the holy complex sparked worldwide protests by Muslims who said they feared the two mosques would be damaged.
Israel's Jerusalem municipality denied any harm would come to the shrines but scrapped its original construction plan and ordered a committee to prepare new blueprints and hold public hearings on the project.
related from INN
Archeologists: Waqf damaging Temple Mount remains (YNET backgrounder February)
When will the historical record of the Jews in Jerusalem be valued? When will the Jewish world care enough to produce an outcry loud enough to bring to bear pressure on these callous barbarians and their on-going desecration of the Temple Mount?
The Jewish world must unite on this issue. Ah, but Jewish unity is no easy achievement. First, Jewry must decide what is the main priority? The answer is somewhat pragmatic and problematic. Archaeological destruction of historically relevant sites is a theme upon which everyone can agree. However, this position does not carry with it the same moral outrage as the religious or cultural arguments both of which carry significant emotional and moral power but are "heard" by fewer concerned people.
In comparison, the Arabians held up Israel's digs in the Western Wall plaza related to the bridge construction by claiming that the mosques on the Mount would be destablized.
The dig, which began in February, touched off Arab violence in Jerusalem following assertions by Islamic leaders that the work, which is taking place dozens of meters outside the Temple Mount, could damage the mosque inside the ancient compound. Israeli law requires such an archaeological excavation in advance of any construction in the Holy Land.
A UNESCO report on the dig concluded that the excavation is not damaging the holy site but called on Israel to stop the dig nonetheless to allow for international observation of the work. Jpost on the dig
An informed observer might conclude that the best approach is to proclaim to the world that the Jewish people will no longer tolerate the destruction of it's holy sites with impunity. However, the Government of Israel holds the key to such a program. And in this reality, world Jewry can merely be a vocal albeit, toothless protagonist.
World Jewry's struggle is not with the arabians on this point but with the Israeli Government proper and specifically the Antiquities Authority which refuses to enforce the existing law as it applies to the arabians but is all too willing to surrender to complaints from the islamic loud mouths. Is it with such disregard of the diaspora does the Israeli government, the caretaker of Jewish historical sites treat the interests of Jews worldwide? It is interesting that on this single issue, the most ardent supporters of Israel (despite the government of Israel) are similarly positioned with the Charedi not too friendly to Israel crowd. This is not the way I expected to experience Jewish unity.
Now, trying to be optimistic, and recognizing that in this month of Elul especially, Jews must recondition ourselves to the annual judgment by and acceptance of the divine will, what can we make of the on-going destruction and desecration of Jerusalem's historic and Jewish legacy? Maybe HaShem is actually seeking to protect the Temple Mount for the Jews? Is it impossible to think so? Is it possible that we must see no semblance of Jewish existence on the Har HaBayis before the ultimate claim to Har HaBayis is made by Moshiach Tzikaynu (bmhay'ra v'yamenu)? It would be consistent with Torah and Jewish history would it not? The miracles of Jewish existence have always been dramatic and undeniable (mostly, all failures to see it being our own). "Now you will begin to see what I will do to Pharaoh. Shemos 6:1"
May it be Your will HaShem that the Jewish people will return to You in teshuva and complete acceptance of Your Kingship. Establish Your people in Your land and return us to Your service and bring Your Divine presence to the Third Beis HaMikdash forever.
Source information on the islamic destruction of the historic treasures buried in Har HaBayis.
A new, very long trench to the North and East of the Dome of the Rock plateau.
The digging of a new trench, which began only yesterday, has already reached a length of more than 150 meters. The purpose of this trench is to facilitate the installation of new electrical and plumbing infrastructure. The trench is being dug with heavy machinery, and reaches a maximum depth of 1.5 meters.
The work begins at the Northern edge of the Dome of the Rock plateau, connecting this new trench to a previous trench that was recently dug here. It abuts the North edge of the plateau, turns South, and continues along the plateau’s Eastern edge, in an area that is considered by most scholars, to be the location of the Second Temple "Courts of the Women". Back in 1970, in this very same place, a section of an Herodian wall was exposed and completely destroyed by Waqf workers during a similar dig. Some scholars ascribe that wall to the Second Temple Courts of the Women.
No archaeologist, under any circumstances, would have approved the use of a tractor in such a sensitive archaeological location. When brutally unearthed, earth strata and archaeological finds, totally loose their context, and delicate relics are destroyed. It doesn't matter at all if there is or isn't an archaeological supervisor present in such a dig. Under such conditions, there is absolutely no possibility of conducting any sort of professional supervision, which naturally would include: section drawings, registration of loci and finds and sifting samples of the soil.
In certain sections of the trench, some engraved stone fragments were seen in the soil that had been dug up and cast aside. Dig info, video and photos
This myth of Jerusalem as Islam"s third holiest city based upon the mythical ascension of Mohammed from Al-Aksa to Heaven has grown exponentially in the recent telling since 1967. When you tell a Big Lie and repeat it often, it achieves credibility and legs of its own. In Islam, telling a lie to infidels for the sake of enlarging your own believers" faith or defeating the infidel is acceptable, even desirable. Emanuel A. Winston -Gamla Website
"Architectural engraved stones that were removed from the trench"
Har-HaBayt.org - documenting destruction of antiquities on the Temple Mount from recent and current Waqf ordered digs
Destruction of the Temple Mount - Hershel Shanks
One Jerusalem - Temple Mount Destruction July
One Jerusalem - Temple Mount Destruction Continues
Temple Institute - Moslem Destruction
THE DESTRUCTION OF THE TEMPLE MOUNT ANTIQUITIES