Monday, September 03, 2007

Another Temple Mount Controversy on Horizon

It's all very curious, and I'm certainly not at a vantage point to figure it out. It would be disappointing to see the credibility and prestige of Israeli archaeology squandered. The AFP reports:
Doubts over 'second temple remains' in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israeli officials cast doubt Friday over claims that
remains of the second Jewish temple might have been found during work
to lay pipes at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem.

"If that was the case, the antiquities authority, which has an
observer on site, as well as police, also monitoring the work, would
have stepped in," said archaeologist Dan Bahat, a former excavations
official in Jerusalem.

On Thursday, archaeologist Gaby Barkai from Bar Ilan University told
local television that "a massive seven metre-long (23 feet) wall" had
been found, and urged the government to ask the Muslim religious
authorities to stop laying pipes.

Bahat said he would visit the site, but accused nameless
archaeologists with a nationalist agenda of "waging a politically
inspired campaign, systematically for several years, to strengthen
Israeli control over the esplanade".

The police spokesman for the city, Shmulik Ben Rubi, said police had
not been asked to intervene in the pipe-laying work has would have
been the case normally in the event of an archaeological discovery.

A spokeswoman for Israel's antiquities authority refused to comment.

Israeli television said the pipework carried out by Muslim religious
affairs authority, the Waqf, is about 1.5 metres deep and 100 metres

The holy site in east Jerusalem, which Israel annexed unilaterally
after capturing the Arab sector of the city in 1967, houses the
Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock and is the third holiest site in
world Islam.

Jews venerate the site as the Temple Mount, where King Herod's second
temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. It is the holiest site in

All that remains today is the temple's Western Wall, or Wailing wall.

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