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KATSAV JOINS BATTLE TO SAVE TEMPLE MOUNT TREASURES
Israeli President Moshe Katsav demanded on Wednesday that the government stop the destruction of antiquities on the Temple Mount, adding that he could not shake off the impression that the Waqf's goal is not only to reinforce Muslim control of the Mount, but "to erase every Jewish trace" there.
After meeting with members of the Committee to Prevent the Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount, Katsav said he would ask Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to prevent trucks from entering the Mount and removing archaeological material. "To hear about hundreds of trucks removing archaeological material from the Temple Mount causes trembling; to hear about digging being done without the knowledge of the Antiquities Authority causes anguish," he said.
Dr. Shmuel Berkowitz, a committee member, said while the entire world is outraged by the Taliban's destruction of ancient Buddhas in Afghanistan, the same world is silent about the destruction of Jewish antiquities on the Temple Mount.
Committee members told Katsav that last weekend trucks entered the Mount to remove additional material and on Tuesday a tractor worked there, damaging an ancient building and destroying many archaeological remains. They said they had sent an urgent letter to Sharon and Public Security Minister Uzi Landau. The latter plans to recommend to the cabinet that Jews and Christians be allowed to resume visits to the Mount, which have been banned since Palestinian violence erupted last September.
Last week, the committee also asked Israel's High Court of Justice to order the cessation of all work being done by the Waqf without archaeological supervision and the resumption of supervision on such work by the Antiquities Authority.
In response, the Palestinian-appointed Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, warned Israel against taking any measures in the Temple Mount area that could lead to an "additional escalation and reaction by Muslims around the world."
Used with Permission from International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.