MUFTI OF JERUSALEM Mohammed Hussein (right) walks in front of the Dome of the Rock in 2007.
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
The Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, warned Tuesday that Israeli archaeological excavations near the Temple Mount were “catastrophic” and aimed at “changing the identity” of the city.
The mufti claimed that Israel was carrying out excavation works at the Umayyad palaces, under the northern part of the Islamic Museum, which is located west of al-Aksa Mosque.
Sheikh Hussein said in a statement that he expected the excavations work to undermine and destroy Islamic structures located in the whole area. Israel’s goal, he claimed, was to “Judaize” the historic site and all of Jerusalem.
Seal from First Temple Period found at kotel supports Biblical accounts (Israel Antiquities Authority)
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“The occupation authorities are pretending as if they are searching for the foundations of their ostensible Temple,” the mufti said. “The Aksa Mosque is in real danger as a result of these excavations, especially if there’s an earthquake, which will cause grave damage to the buildings.”
He appealed to the Arab and Islamic countries, as well as all world governments and the United Nations, to move quickly and exert immediate pressure on Israel to “stop carrying out its schemes, which intensify tensions in the whole region.”
During the Umayyad period between 661 to 750, a series of perhaps six palaces were constructed to the south and west of al-Aksa Mosque to serve as the administrative headquarters for the management of Jerusalem and al-Aksa Mosque affairs. The palaces, constructed with stones toppled by the Romans from the walls of Herod’s Second Temple compound, are preserved within the Jerusalem Archaeological Park – Davidson Center.
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