Israeli Archeologist Accuses Palestinians of 'Crime' at Holy Site
The director of Israel's antiquities department accused Palestinian officials of committing "an archeological crime" by careless work at one of Islam and Judaism's holiest sites.
"Damage has been done," Amir Drori said. "Never in the world have I seen work on such an important site done with tractors that dig 12 meters deep without expert supervision. This amounts to an archeological crime."
Drori said Palestinian researchers were sifting through soil removed near the Dome of the Rock, Islam's third holiest site, which is next to Judaism's holiest site, the Wailing Wall, which is claimed to be the only remaining part of the Second Jewish Temple destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.
The workers are searching for "objects dating from the Middle Ages during the Muslim era, but also from the era of the Second Jewish Temple," Drori told Israeli public radio.
The site is administered by the Waqf, an administrative body concerned with Muslims' welfare.
"As the Mount of the Temple is controlled by the Waqf, we cannot, for political reasons, supervise the work, which will shovel areas of Solomon's Stables that have been turned into a mosque," Drori said.
Relations have been frozen between Israeli and Palestinian archeologists since 1996, when Israel started to dig a tunnel near the holy mosque. Ensuing riots throughout the Palestinian territories killed more than 80.
The future of Jerusalem and its holy sites is one of the most bitterly contested issues at the Camp David peace talks between the two sides in the United States - OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (AFP)
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