The Waqf Muslim authority, using heavy tractors, has so far excavated a trench 120 -meters long, 1.5 meters deep, crushing fragments of monumental building, pottery and glazed tiles in their path. The trench runs through the northern and eastern parts of the 2,000-year old Upper Platform of Temple Mount, where the outer courts of the Jewish Temple were situated, including the Women’s Court, until the Roman destruction of 70 C.E. Today, the Muslim Dome of the Rock stands there. (See picture)
Dr. Gabriel Barkai of Bar Ilan University is leading the protest against the wildcat, unauthorized Waqf project to improve the mosques’ infrastructure and demanding that the contents of the trench be scientifically excavated and documented before they are lost.
“This issue transcends politics,” he told DEBKAfile. “It is a tragic loss for world culture, as much as or more than the effigies of Buddha destroyed by the Taliban in Afghanistan. It affects the foundations of Judeo-Christian civilization – as well as Muslim history in Jerusalem – by ravaging one of the most important sites for the history of mankind.”
DEBKAfile’s sources add: The Temple Mount Plaza, paved over by the Muslim rulers of Jerusalem in the Middle Ages, has never been scientifically explored.
All attempts to unearth and study the relics beneath the pavement have elicited a ferment of Muslim threats accusing Israel of attempting to destroy the mosques built over the ruins of the Jewish First and Second Temples. Even cautious shafts at a distance from the mosques are greeted with rage.
Yet, in 1999 and again now, in 2007, the Muslim authorities themselves excavated deep below the surface to expand their mosques and improve their facilities. Then as now, they destroyed precious Jewish, Christian and Muslim artifacts with heavy tractors and dumped them helter skelter as unwanted debris.