Islamic Movement planning 4th mosque for Temple Mount

By Nadav Shragai
Ha'aretz Correspondent

The Islamic Movement in Israel has a master plan to build a fourth mosque on the eastern side of the Temple Mount, according to a detailed report prepared by security officials concerning how the Waqf (Islamic religious trust) and the Islamic Movement envision the holy site. The construction of the mosque is a long-term plan which is currently only in the discussion stage, unlike the other plans outlined in the report.

Raid Salah, one of the heads of the Islamic Movement, told Ha'aretz that the entire area of the Temple Mount is an inseparable and integral part of the Al Aqsa Mosque. Salah denied the movement's intentions to build a fourth mosque on the site.

The plans of the Waqf and the Islamic Movement for the Temple Mount include replacing the door of the Mugrabi gate with an iron gate and digging in the area nearby; digging in an extensive area along the eastern wall of the Temple Mount, digging in the area above the hand-washing facility in the area of Bab Al Houta; digging on the slope leading to the new gates constructed in Solomon's Stables to prevent the seepage of rainwater into the mosque; and replacing the old entrance into Solomon's Stables, from the direction of the Al Aqsa mosque, turning it into an emergency exit, after the new gate has been turned into the main entrance.

The Committee for the Prevention of Damage to Antiquities on the Temple Mount - a non-partisan body comprised of members representing a range of political views - is calling on the prime minister to order the Waqf and heads of the Muslim community to declare a freeze on the current situation of the Temple Mount and define a new status quo.

In a statement published Friday by the group, the organization said that if the Waqf carries out all its plans for the holy site, the face of the mount will be completely altered, let alone the damage caused to antiquities at the site.

The body wants a permanent inspector from the Antiquities Authority stationed at the site and an end to building materials being brought onto the mount and soil being dug out of it. In addition, the organization demands that the site be opened and freely available to the Israeli and international media so as to "prevent the Waqf from hiding information on the going-ons at the site."

Jerusalem police commander Yair Yitzhaki told the Knesset Education Committee a few months back that the Waqf has six separate building plans prepared for the Temple Mount, but refused to go into details.

An appeal to the District Court by Yehuda Etzion of the Hai Vekayam movement that demanded the Waqf reveal their plans for the site on the basis of the Freedom of Information Act met with the state's refusal since the information was considered secret. The court is yet to decide whether to force the government to publish the Waqf's blueprints.