Wakf stopped from working on Temple Mount wall
By Etgar Lefkovits

JERUSALEM (September 7) - Wakf officials who were doing unsupervised construction work on the southern wall of the Temple Mount earlier this week were evicted by police, security officials said yesterday.

The unprecedented work on Monday followed reports that sections of the wall were in danger of collapse, likely due to past Wakf work in Solomon's Stables located just above.

The southern wall was the subject of a Sunday meeting between Antiquities Authority Jerusalem regional archeologist Jon Seligman and senior Wakf officials, sources said.

Seligman refused to comment.

On Monday, 10 Wakf officials were seen lowering construction materials from the Temple Mount to the base of the southern wall with no archeologist on hand, in what may have been an attempt to buttress the section of the wall that is bulging out.

A guard from the nearby archeological park alerted police, who ordered the construction immediately stopped.

Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby confirmed yesterday that police did not allow the Wakf to carry out the work "since it did not coordinate their moves with police."

Seligman, who is in charge of supervising any work going on at the site, also refused to comment about the Wakf work. He has not been allowed on the Temple Mount for nearly a year due to police regulations barring all non-Muslims from the site in fear of renewed tensions.

Archeologists from the Committee against the Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount were up in arms following the latest revelations of Wakf work.

"It cannot be that the Wakf can take these unilateral moves without any archeological supervision," said Dr. Eilat Mazar, of Hebrew University,a leading member of the committee.

"The cement that Wakf officials were seen putting between the stones of the protruding wall shows what primitive methods they are using to deal with this problem and exemplifies the extent of the risk and the negligence the prime minister is displaying in not properly dealing with this issue."

The committee, which has been decrying the ongoing Wakf work for more than a year, sent a blistering letter to Prime Minister Sharon this week, asking for an urgent meeting with him over the continued Wakf work.

Three months ago, the committee revealed that the Wakf was cleaning ancient cisterns on the Mount. The police confirmed this last month.

Internal Security Minister Uzi Landau recently termed the barring of Jews, Christians, and archeologists from the site an anomaly that "runs against all the basic principles of the state." But he said that at present the government has not acted to change the restrictions placed on non-Muslims due to the "special sensitivities" of the site at this tense time