The Jerusalem Islamic Waqf took advantage of the final days of the holy month of Ramadan, when Jews were barred from visiting the Temple Mount, to eliminate from the compound piles of earth that were rich with archaeological treasures dating back to the Temple period, Makor Rishon reported Friday. The piles of earth were created initially by illegal renovations the Waqf carried out in 1999.
The soil that was now eliminated was dug up by the Waqf as part of its project of erecting a new mosque in the Solomon’s Stables area on the Temple Mount. At the time, 400 truckloads of ancient soil were unloaded in city dumps and in the Kidron Valley. Eventually, Israeli legal authorities became involved and banned the removal of the remaining piles of soil on the Temple Mount.
The Waqf was planning to get rid of those piles as well, but a court petition by the Public Committee for the Prevention of Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount was accepted by the High Court of Justice, which in 2004 issued an injunction against the removal of the piles of soil.
But the Waqf never agreed with the court’s decision, which stood in the way of its plan to pave over the eastern part of the compound, as they have done elsewhere on the Temple Mount. An Israeli archaeologist, Tzahi Devira, who runs the Sifting Project that has revealed tens of thousands of treasures in the dumped soil, has been keeping watch on the Waqf for close to two decades, to make sure they don’t sin again.
So the Waqf did what so many faithful Muslim officials do when faced with a legal prohibition: they cheated, using the Israeli gesture of closing off the Temple Mount to Jews on the last week of Ramadan to complete their heinous crime against history and culture, and recruited more than 1,000 men to remove the piles of soil – this time making sure to get rid of the pesky evidence of there ever being a Jewish Temple there.
According to Makor Rishon, a group of Jews who stood near the Temple Mount gates one night this week noticed a truck entering the compound.
At this point, those tall piles of soil are gone from the Temple Mount, replaced by terraced stones. The crime paid. All evidence of a Jewish Temple has been permanently eliminated.
Israel Police offered a reassuring statement in response to the Makor Rishon inquiry – read slowly, let the implied message sink in: “The irregularity has been identified by Israel Police, and once the situation is restored to normal by the Waqf and under the supervision of professionals, additional measures will be weighed.”