01 september 2020

2020-09-01: Waqf fills hole on Temple Mount, possibly hiding archaeological treasures (ENGLISH)

"The finds on the mountain reflect 3,000 years of Jewish activity at the site, and every pit dug in the site could shed light on thousands of years of Jewish history."The Waqf filled in a hole that opened in the Temple Mount floor with concrete on Tuesday, raising concerns that possible archaeological findings may now be lost.

The hole opened up near the Mughrabi Gate in the southwestern section of the Temple Mount on Sunday, according to the Waqf. The Mughrabi Gate is the gate used by all non-Muslims to enter the Temple Mount plaza.

The hole was about 1 ft (30 cm) by 1.3 ft (40 cm) wide and about 2.3 ft (70 cm) deep and located about 13 ft (four meters) from the Western Wall and 39 ft (12 meters) from the southern wall.

An advisor for the Waqf stated that the hole was most likely a water conduit.

The Temple Mount Organizations demanded that a proper archaeological restoration be conducted at the site, but the hole was filled with concrete by the Waqf on Tuesday, according to Army Radio.

A view of the Temple Mount from the air (photo credit: GALI TIBBON)

"The Temple Mount is the microcosm of the ancient world. Every meter on the Temple Mount has first-rate national importance," said Asaf Fried, a spokesperson for the Temple Mount Organizations, according to Temple Mount News. "The finds on the mountain reflect 3,000 years of Jewish activity at the site, and every pit dug in the site could shed light on thousands of years of Jewish history. Whether it is a cistern from the days of Herod, or an opening of a cave from the days of King Solomon, from the escape caves he built at the bottom of the mountain, among other things to hide the Ark of the Covenant during a hostile onslaught."

"Where are all the thousands who went out a month ago to protest against harming the holy things of Israel?" wrote the Students for the Temple Mount group on Twitter. "When it happens in reality in the most holy place for the Jewish people, is it less important than a TV show?"

The Al-Quds Foundation warned that the hole may be a sign of structural damage to the southwestern area of the site, referencing a stone that fell out of the Western Wall not far from where the hole opened. The foundation claimed that Israel is preventing a proper restoration of the site in order to place the area in structural danger and create an opening to intervene.

In July 2018, a large stone fell out of the wall above a prayer platform that is part of the egalitarian prayer section of the Western Wall, causing significant damage to the site. Repair work on the stones was completed in March.

The Waqf, an arm of the Jordanian Ministry of Sacred Properties, administers the Temple Mount site.
 
Visits by religious Jews to the Temple Mount are monitored by Waqf guards and Israeli police – and all Jewish prayer, including silent prayer, is forbidden, according to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

No sacred Jewish objects, such as prayer books or prayer shawls, may be brought onto the mount, according to the tourism website Tourist Israel.
The Temple Mount is open to Jewish entry Sunday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. until 11 a.m. (10:30 a.m. in the winter) and again from 1:30 p.m. until 2:30 p.m.