A group of Jews that ascended the Temple Mount Sunday were shocked to see that ancient beams of wood that had apparently been used during the period of the Holy Temple were being used as firewood by Arabs on the Mount, and off it. Archaeologists have dated the wood as far back as the First Temple period, and appear to be among the celebrated “Cedars of Lebanon” mentioned in the Tanach.
The wood, consisting of giant beams, first appeared at the end of the 1930s, when the Al-Aqsa mosque which currently occupies the Temple Mount was refurbished. The beams had been used in the roof structure of the mosque, and already at that time they were said to be thousands of years old by archaeologists – preserved only because they had been used in the building. Some of the beams were dated to the first Temple period, others to Roman times, and at least one beam was found to have Byzantine-era designs etched on it.
After the beams were removed from the mosque, they were stored in a museum on the Mount. However, in recent years the beams were moved to a corner of the Mount, open to the elements – and archaeologists fear that exposure to winter rain and summer sun will be their undoing. Some of the beams were taken out several years ago, and more have been spotted in recent months. Reports said that the Arabs, who have been trying for years to ger rid of the beams, have begun burning them.
Now, many of the beams have been placed at what appears to be a dumping ground next to the Golden Gate of the Old City, apparently for the use of local Arabs as firewood. Jewish groups that visited the Mount saw the beams being moved, but reported that the Arabs forbade them to take photos of the activity. Officials of the Archaeology Authority, who are responsible for the safety of these ancient beams, are nowhere to be seen.
Organizations that are involved in attempting to secure Jewish rights on the Mount expressed shock at the story. “It appears that this is part of the systematic attempts by Arabs to destroy all connections between the Jewish people and the Temple Mount,” said a spokesperson for one of the groups.
Manhigut Yehudit leader Moshe Feiglin expressed shock at the destruction of the important artifacts under the noses of Israeli authorities, and expressed hope that Likud voters would choose the Manhigut Yehudit faction to help defend the holy places of the Jewish people.