The Committee for the Prevention of Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount

(Translated by Myer Rosen)


1.                  The Committee for the Prevention of Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount is a non-political, volunteer, public body composed of archaeologists, jurists, educators, naturalists and public figures which was set up on an ad hoc basis to prevent the continuation of the destruction of the antiquities on the Temple Mount.

2.                  We view with great concern the severe situation in the matter of the failure to prevent  damage to archaeological treasures on the Temple Mount -- a situation that existed under  the previous Government of Israel and which continues under the present Government.   The situation under discussion is intolerable and must be corrected immediately (a broad public statement by 140 prominent Israeli figures in culture and public affairs calling upon you to correct the situation immediately was widely published in the press recently on the eve of Shavuot).

3.                  The facts described in our plea are based upon: (a) a visit to the area of the Temple Mount (in spite of the efforts of agents of the Waqf to prevent any approach to the location or any record whatsoever by outsiders), especially to the section where the excavations are being carried out; and (b) discussions with senior officials in various departments dealing with the subject of the Temple Mount.

4.                  In recent days, members of the Committee met with the Minister for Internal Security, Mr. Shlomo Ben-Ami, with the Minister responsible for Jerusalem affairs, Mr. Chaim Ramon, with the Mayor of Jerusalem, with the Director-General of the Antiquities Authority, and with the commander of the Jerusalem District police.  Furthermore, members of the Committee held discussions with senior officials in various governmental bodies dealing with matters concerning Jerusalem and the Temple Mount in their various security, legal and other aspects.

5.                  The picture that developed confirmed what had been known before, which is that there exists on the Temple Mount a scandalous and intolerable situation -- the destruction of antiquities and continuing damage to the antiquities on the Temple Mount, damage that continues in these very days.

6.                  We were shocked and horrified to learn that no governmental official, including those with whom we met, knows for certain the intentions of the Waqf.  No Israeli official has seen any plans, has gone into the details, has immersed himself in the data, has set limits, restrictions, distances and dimensions to the works being carried out.  All this at a time that an enormous area of approximately 15,000 square meters (15 dunams) in the Eastern part of the Temple Mount appears like one gigantic construction site to a length of about 250 meters along the Eastern wall of the Temple Mount, from the gateway to Solomon’s Stables up to the Gate of Mercy.

7.                  The granting of a general permit to execute works by the Waqf without accurate and detailed information and planning, in a location whose every bit of ground is likely to contain priceless remnants of the past, and whose destruction is an irreversible loss, amounts to scandalous behavior by people lacking any feeling or understanding of the archaeological, scientific, cultural and historical significance of this site which is one of the most important archaeological sites for the world in general and for our nation in particular.  No cultured person can put up with such a thing.

8.                  Contrary to the proclamations of the Minister of Internal Security from the podium of the Knesset at the beginning of the year that he is closing the gates of the Temple Mount to heavy equipment, such as trucks and tractors, and contrary to further proclamations by various officials that building materials and construction equipment would not be allowed into the Temple Mount and that certainly no earth or rubble would be allowed to be removed for dumping, there continue to flow into the Temple Mount building materials such as stone blocks, paving stones and masonry, wood planks, steel reinforcement rods, and scaffolding.  Similarly, there continues the removal of earth and rubble, including rare archaeological finds that are forever lost to science and culture.

9.                  We demand from the Prime Minister of Israel:

10.              To open the entire Temple Mount enclosure in a complete and free manner to full and continuous inspection and survey by the Israeli and international communications media, now and for the future without any restriction, something that is denied today in the course of a striking violation of freedom of the press and information in a democratic state and the denial without any legal foundation of the public’s right to know.  Thereby, the Waqf may be denied the ability to conceal from the eyes of the public in Israel and of the entire cultured world information and pictures of the archaeological crimes and of the illegal acts that the Waqf is perpetrating on the Temple Mount;

11.              To set in place a permanent inspector of the Antiquities Authority who shall closely watch, on a continuing, daily basis, the doings on the Temple Mount, and who shall be able immediately to report any improper action, damage or danger to the archaeological remains on the Temple Mount;

12.              To enable full and continuous inspection at any time by the inspectors of the Antiquities Authority in any place on the Temple Mount, as is customary at every archaeological site in the country; and

13.              To notify the Antiquities Authority ahead of time of any plan or intention of the Waqf to carry out an action that might injure the archaeological remains on the Temple Mount, to solicit the opinion of the Antiquities Authority, and to act accordingly such that no damage to antiquities will be possible.

14.              The Committee for the Prevention of Destruction of Antiquities does not see in the subject of the destruction of the antiquities on the Temple Mount a political or a contentious factional subject.  There is a broad consensus on the subject, as demonstrated by the list of men of affairs, academics, and 82 Members of the Knesset spanning the political spectrum who have signed the public petition on the subject, and as may be noted in the nine urgent motions raised in the Knesset by representatives ranging from Meretz and One Israel to the Likud and the National Union, which were tabled in the Knesset and debated following the publication of the public call by the Committee.  Therefore, the Committee calls upon every public official to act urgently to correct the severe situation in the present and not to engage in a search for those guilty in the past.


Members of the Committee:  Teddy Kollek, Chaim Goury, A.B. Yehoshua, Yizhar Smilensky, Prof. Avi Ravitsky, Meir Dagan, Tzvi Zamir, Yitzhak Hofi, Yoram Yair (deceased), Shelomoh Lahat, Prof. Avraham Biran, Dr. Gabi Barkai, Dr. Adv. Shemuel Berkovitz, Michael Gal, Yisrael Kaspi, Prof. Ami Mazar, Dr. Eilat Mazar, Dr. Ze’ev Meshel, Prof. Ehud Netzer, Dr. Orit Tzur., Prof. Amos Kloner, Prof. Avraham Biran, Amos Oz, Moshe Landau, Meir Shamgar, Prof. Efraim Stern.



CPDATM Documents


12.12.00 - Urgent Letter to Prime Minister Barak

15.12.00 - Press Release

16.12.01 – Detailed Letter to Prime Minister Sharon