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Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

Muslim Dig Provokes Israeli Wrath

Written by Rev. H.A. Bergsma
Temple Mount was at the centre of a potentially explosive clash on March 8, when Muslim clerics from the Al-Aqsa Mosque were accused of committing an archaeological crime by illegally excavating the site with a bulldozer. A group of prominent Israeli archaeologists and intellectuals demanded that the Israeli court should order the government to stop Muslim excavations of an area in the southeast of the ancient complex, known as Solomon's Stables. The case could force an unwanted confrontation between Muslim leaders and Ariel Sharon, who became Israel's prime minister on March 8 and who has been criticized for a visit to the sacred hilltop five months ago.

In photographs commissioned by the committee, which includes the left-wing authors A. B. Yehoshua and Amos Oz, a bulldozer can clearly be seen following a track to the entrance of Solomon's Stables, which were excavated in 1996 and turned into the huge underground Marwani Mosque. Eilat Mazar, a specialist in the archaeology of Jerusalem at the Hebrew University, accused the Israeli authorities of being afraid to take action to stop the bulldozing because of the risk of setting off another wave of Palestinian anger. "People are afraid, and that includes the Prime Minister, to do anything - in order to keep everything quiet. They argue that preserving the archaeology of the Temple Mount is not worth risking people's lives," said Dr. Mazar. He coordinates the Committee for the Prevention of the Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount, which brought yesterday's case to court. (From Religion Today News)

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