A new Palestinian propaganda video that made rounds this week on the Internet claims that Israel has been excavating a network of tunnels underneath the western part of the Temple Mount complex, allegedly in order to "Judaize" the compound and build the third Temple.
The 17-minute long documentary, titled "Underneath al-Aksa," was released on Monday by the Islamic Movement in Israel.
The Palestinian thesis that prevails in the documentary claims that "al-Aksa is in danger" and that concern has stoked the recent wave of Palestinian violence against Israelis that erupted in October.
The propaganda video, purporting to present hard evidence of the existence of an Israeli network of passageways underneath the holy al-Aksa Mosque, has the potential to pour oil on the flames and incite more Palestinian violence.
Three figure take the spotlight in the video: Mohammad Abu Atta, an expert on Jerusalem and al-Aksa, Gideon Slimani, an Israeli archeologist, and Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the extremist Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, who was previously convicted of incitement to violence.
The video begins with a statement by Abu Atta, claiming that "al-Aska Mosque and the old city of Jerusalem are today witnessing the most dangerous diggings conducted by the Israeli occupation."
In the documentary, Abu Atta tours the alleged sprawling network of tunnels between the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan in the south and the Muslim Quarter in the north. During the recording of his tour, he claims to be visiting Israeli tunnels that are located several meters underneath the Western part of al-Aska Mosque.
Slimani, the archeologist, explains what he claims is Israel's actual goal behind what it describes as "archeological digging." He claims that Israeli authorities strive to create an underground city that connects between Silwan and the Muslim Quarter, passing through the Western Wall and Damascus Gate. With this network of tunnels, Israel will create de-facto Jewish control underneath al-Aksa, Slimani adds.
"To me, as an archeologist, it is very difficult to see that Israel harnesses archeology for its political agenda. Israel calls the project 'archeological digging,' but this is not archeological digging. This is a tool aiding the Israeli government to fulfill its ideology," Slimani says.
"Thus, all the archeologists working here cannot pretend to be professional archeologists, since they are undoubtedly taking part in political activity, "Slimani further states.
Sheikh Raed Salah is filmed warning that "al-Aksa mosque is in danger," because "the occupation is openly committing crimes, and it leans on an invented agreement it signed with Jordan to install cameras on Temple Mount in order to continue committing these crimes."
"These crimes include the digging beneath al-Aksa, the daily Jewish storming of the mosque, the expelling of young Muslims stationed in al-Aksa to protect the mosque and the propaganda according to which Israel should impose its sovereignty on Temple Mount," Salah argues.
Salah then calls on the Jordanian government to "rapidly start a propaganda war against the Israeli occupation to expose all its crimes and act for its immediate annihilation."
A tunnel does run underground, connecting the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan and the Western Wall. The tunnel
leads to the archaeological site known as the Davidson Center and reaches the foundations of the Termple Mount.
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