The Islamic Wakf is digging large ditches on the Temple Mount without legally-required archaeological supervision aimed at protecting antiquities at Judaism’s holiest site.
Photos of the construction were publicized earlier this week. Investigation revealed that the dig had been approved by the police, though not coordinated with any archeological authorities. The ditch is being dug in the direction of the Dome of the Rock, the site of the Holy Temple, according to most opinions.
Police approval of the project, which involves heavy machinery, as well as a JCB tractor, was apparantly approved by the head of Israel’s Antiquity Authority. "The trench depth varies from 50 – 100 cm deep!" reports Zachi Zweig, an archaeologist that has been involved in exposing the Islamic Wakf's campaign of destroying Jewish artifacts on the mount. "Grey earth was removed from the dig, which indicates that it is archaeologically significant. In addition, signs of ancient architecture was exposed beneath the current platform slabs. It should be mentioned that the bedrock level at this location is very close to the current platform."
Zweig, who started the Temple Mound Debris-Sifting Project following his publicizing the dumbing of artifacts by the Wakf in the Kidron Valley, says the Antiquities Authority shares responsibility for the destruction. "It is an atrocity for which Antiquities Authority Director Shuka Dorfman, who authorized the dig, is responsible," Zweig said. "Ancient architectural remains were exposed during this dig in the northern section of the trench. No reasonable archaeologist would justify conducting a mechanical dig in such a sensitive location. The core problem here is that the IAA director is not an archaeologist, but rather a politician."
Past excavations carried out by the Wakf resulted in tons of priceless archaeological artifacts being mixed with garbage and dumped in the Kidron Valley. Some of that dumped earth was transported to the Tzurim Valley, below Hebrew University, where Zweig organized a group of archaeological students and volunteers who are still sifting through it after finding antiquities from the First and Second Temple periods.
Two archaeology students were detained by police Tuesday after asking workers questions about the dig. “The workers ignored us and called a Wakf official over. He complained to the police and upon our exiting the mount we were detained,” one of the students told Arutz-7.
Another group of archaeologists, the Committee for the Prevention of the Destruction of Temple Mount Antiquities, has protested the latest unsupervised construction by the Wakf, demanding that archaeologists be brought in to conduct the digging in a professional and documented manner.
Jerusalem-based architect Gideon Charlap took the following photographs atop the Temple Mount:
The following pictures of the ongoing construction were taken Tuesday:
Click herefor more photos at the Temple Institute's web site. Extensive background information and up-to-date pictures can also be viewed at har-habayt.org