Photos on the internet show Muslims doing light construction on the stone inside the Dome of Rock in a manner that entirely disregards the sanctity of the site. No one knows anything about the incident, but the stone, known as the Even HaShtiya (Foundation Stone) is holy to Jews and this may be yet another case of Muslims causing damage to the Temple Mount.
On March 30, an Arabic Twitter-feed posted photos of Muslims engaged in “specialised cleaning” of the large stone located inside the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount. The cleaning was purported to be in preparation for Ramadan, the month-long period of fasting for Muslims that will begin on May 15. Despite the claim of the Twitter feed that the site is the “1st Qiblah (direction Muslims face when they pray), 2nd Mosque on Earth & 3 Holiest Site in Islam,” cleaning supplies and buckets are scattered around the large stone surface. Workers can be seen in the photo lounging directly on the rock in a manner that is inconsistent with the holy status the Twitter site claims the stone has for Muslims.
The famous Rock at Masjid al-Aqsa (beneath the Dome of the Rock) undergoing specialised cleaning ahead of Ramadan #ramadan #palestine pic.twitter.com/1QNBNhxPW6
— Masjid al Aqsa (@firstqiblah) March 30, 2018
This blatant show of disrespect for an allegedly holy Muslim site stands in stark contrast to a video posted on April 26 in which Israeli police arrested an Arab suspect inside the Dome of the Rock. Ironically, the police removed their shoes, respecting the sanctity of the site while the Muslims surrounding them are wearing their shoes.
قوات الاحتلال تعتقل محمود العناتي أحد موظفي الإعمار في المسجد الأقص، قبل قليل. pic.twitter.com/BwIm3pXYsU
— شبكة قدس الإخبارية (@qudsn) April 26, 2018
Though posted earlier than the photo of the “specialised cleaning,” the video reportedly shows the arrest of the workman. Currently, non-Muslims are forbidden from entering the Dome of the Rock so no details of this desecration have been reported by any non-Arabic media outlets.
The stone is believed to be the location of either the Holy of Holies, which is the enclosed space into which only the High Priest entered on Yom Kippur and the holiest site to Jews, or the outer chamber adjacent to the Holy of Holies making it slightly less holy.
This recent display of Muslim disrespect inside the Dome of the Rock is not an isolated incident. In April, complaints were filed with the Israeli police concerning Muslim children playing soccer on the Temple Mount. Though this has reportedly been going on for years as more Jews ascend to their holiest site, such displays of disrespect become more contentious.
Yisrael Medad, a journalist and author who has served as an aid to Knesset members, has been a strong advocate for Jewish rights on the Temple Mount since he first ascended the Jewish people’s holiest site in 1970. Though he has personally witnessed Muslims disrespect, he is more concerned about artifacts on the Temple Mount being damaged by the Muslims.
“I don’t want to interfere with anyone else’s religious sensibilities or customs, but if a place is significant to more than one religion, it behooves the ruling power to ensure that everyone has the as much possibility to worship,” Medad said to Breaking Israel News. “This means maintaining the site and absolutely not damaging it.”
Medad described wood beams that have been stored under a tarp by the Golden Gate. The beams are ancient with some being identified as cedars of Lebanon dating back to the First Temple period almost 3,000 years ago. These beams are being left to rot in an area inaccessible to Jews or Israeli authorities.
Probably the most egregious case of Islamic disrespect came during the construction of the underground el-Marwani Mosque from 1996 to 1999. Heavy equipment was used during the illegal construction, carrying away approximately 400 truckloads of dirt to garbage dumps. the Sifting Project was initiated as an attempt to recover artifacts buried in the garbage dumps. Despite Waqf claims that no signs of the Jewish Temples were found during construction, many significant artifacts from the Temples were discovered in the soil.