UNESCO team to inspect Mughrabi dig

The team could leave for the region as early as next week.

The The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said Friday it will send a team of four experts to Jerusalem to assess the impact of construction work which has inflamed Israeli-Palestinian tensions. The experts are to visit the hilltop compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, which is on UNESCO's World Heritage and its World Heritage in Danger Lists. Nearly three weeks ago, Israeli archaeologists began a salvage dig ahead of the construction of a new pedestrian walkway up to the site, one of Islam's holiest. The Israeli dig sparked riots by Muslim worshippers and protests throughout the Arab world. "I believe that such a mission constitutes the most appropriate response to the present situation," UNESCO director-general Koichiro Matsuura is quoted as saying in a statement. It "could also be a means of helping to alleviate tensions and restore a climate of confidence." The team could leave for the region as early as next week, the Paris-based organization said. Members will report their findings to Matsuura upon their return.