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Lies are obsessive: the Jews, said late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, have never been in Jerusalem and the Temple never existed. This canard has been repeated ever since. Chief Palestinian Justice Sheik Taysir Tamimi declared that the Jewish temples “never existed.” In October 1990, the mere sight of a dozen would-be Jewish worshipers (who had actually been turned away) triggered a blood-drenched Temple Mount riot. The Hebrew language dailies Yediot Aharonot and Arutz Sheva recently revealed that Israel’s “valuable remnants from the two Jewish Temples were thrown away to an improvised garbage dump by members of the Waqf.” Most of the damage was done to the underground space that the Crusaders had termed “Solomon’s Stables.” Located under the Mount’s surface, it was used by ancient Temple priests to store vestments and items. The small room is now used for Muslim prayer. Israeli authorities did not negate the Waqf’s proposal to convert the “stables” into an Islamic praying area, called a “massalam.” An underground chamber with two pillars and an arch from the Second Temple period has already been turned into a mosque, and there are rumors of plans to unify the mosques so as to cover the entire outdoor area. The Waqf also destroyed stonework done by Jewish artisans 2,000 years ago in the underground “double passageway.” The Israeli authorities bowed to the Waqf’s desire to create an emergency exit, only to find that the Islamic body had punched through the outside wall of the Temple Mount.
As early as 1970, the Waqf destroyed the eastern wall of the Herodian Temple complex. Other severe episodes of archeological destruction took place in 1999 and 2007. It was the most massive movement of earth on the Temple Mount in recent times. Remnants of the archeological record have been fished from the Kidron Valley stream bed where the Waqf dumped the earth it removed from the Mount. Instead of working its way down through the site under the close supervision of Israeli archaeologists, the Waqf sent in bulldozers and then trucks to remove the earth by the ton-load. Much of the damage cannot be reversed.
A wall from the outer courtyard of the Second Temple is believed to have been completely pulverized. According to Gabi Barkai, recipient of the Jerusalem Prize for Archaeology, the dirt in the surrounding area is filled with Jewish history from many periods: the Canaanites, the First Temple, the period of the return to Zion from Babylonia, the Second Temple, including the Hashmonaim period and King Herod, and up to now. Finds have included fragments of stone decorated with ornaments from the Second Temple Period, arrowheads from Nebuchadnezzar’s army and also from the Romans, as well as coins and decorations from many periods, jewelry made of various materials, stone and glass squares from floor and wall mosaics. Among the most exciting finds were seal rings, ostracons written in ancient Hebrew script, terra-cotta figurines and a bronze coin dating to the Great Revolt against the Romans bearing the Hebrew phrase, “Freedom of Zion.” The list of the treasures include pot shards, pendants, rings, bracelets, earrings and beads, amulets, icons and statuettes, decorated wall hangings and fragments of decorations from buildings, seals and many other items. The most striking find was a seal impression with letters in the ancient Hebrew script of the last days of the First Temple.
While the Waqf would never allow an archaeological dig on the site, its own destruction continues unabated. The intention is to turn the 36-acre Temple Mount compound into an exclusively Islamic site by erasing every remnant and memory of its Jewish past. It’s an archaeological crime which has been called “cultural Holocaust.” That’s why there is the urgent need of an international campaign aimed to protect Jerusalem’s most holy site. This is the most important battle to any cultured person, regardless of his political and religious identity. It’s the biggest crime against truth.
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