Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Temple Mount Excavations

If it weren't for my lingering cold, I'd wander down and see what all the fuss is about:
"The Israel Antiquities Authority is carrying out the excavation work near an unused ramp leading up to the Mugrabi Gate, an entrance to the Temple Mount, which engineers have said is in danger of collapse. The dig precedes the planned construction of a new Mugrabi bridge, which is slated to replace a makeshift wooden bridge built above the ramp three years ago to connect the Old City's Dung Gate with the Mugrabi Gate.

"The wooden bridge has allowed tourists, security forces and Jewish visitors to enter the Temple Mount via the Mugrabi Gate, located next to the Western Wall. Police demanded its construction after part of the ramp buckled on a snowy night in February 2004.

"The excavation is taking place alongside a salvage dig in the nearby archeological park, in one of the most sensitive spots in Israel: at the foot of the southwest corner of a wall in the Temple Mount compound...

"Arab leaders have argued that Israel is trying to undermine the foundations of the Al-Aqsa Mosque to prepare the ground for the Third Temple. Israel Antiquities Authority archeologist Yuval Baruch and Jerusalem police chief Ilan Franco dismissed the accusations, which have been publicized on Al-Jazeera and other media outlets.

"An Israeli security official said Islamic extremists are trying to fan the flames of conflict and build their status as protectors of Islam, regardless of the reality on the ground."

While there are Israeli militants who would love to build a third temple, the government keeps a tight rein on such stirrings, and the accusations from the Arab leaders mentioned sound ridiculous. It does, however, serve to get people stirred up, and the area is sensitive.


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