Inspection of Temple Mount works is stopped by police

By Nadav Shragai
Ha'aretz Correspondent (15 Jun 2000)

Police have stopped Jerusalem municipal officials from inspecting work undertaken by the Waqf (Islamic religious trust) and the Israeli Islamic movement on the Temple Mount. Tractors and trucks have been hard at work in recent weeks, undertaking projects along the eastern ridge of the Temple Mount, up to the Solomon's Stables site where sealed-off areas were opened up four months ago. Two large stone structures have been erected.

The municipality yesterday complained officially about the thwarting of efforts by the head of its supervisory department, Israel Ben Ari, to monitor these signs of work activity on the Temple Mount. In response, the police say that the Jerusalem official had reached the area without coordinating his steps with them. According to the police, Ben Ari must tour the area accompanied by the head of the police's holy places division, Chief Superintendent Nissan Shaham. The police spokeswoman said the two stone structures are temporary storage facilities.

Some Jerusalem activists are wary that the Waqf and Islamic movement projects could harm precious antiquities. The "Committee for the Prevention of Damage to Antiquities on the Temple Mount" - a non-partisan body comprised of members representing a gamut of political views - claims that considerable damage has been caused in recent months to valuable relics on the surface of the Temple Mount, and below ground level. The Committee complains that no clear explanation of what the Waqf is up to along the eastern wall has been offered.