Mr. Ehud Barak
Prime Minister of Israel
Dear Prime Minister,
Re: Demand for the immediate cessation of illegal work being carried out on a large scale on the Temple Mount, and which is causing grave damage to the antiquities of the Temple Mount, and which is being executed without the supervision of the Antiquities Authority.
1. About 10 days ago we were amazed to see that extensive building work had been renewed on the Temple Mount. The work includes extensive earth works, excavation using a tractor, paving of large areas, and construction work.
2. Furthermore, tens of trucks are currently entering with building and paving materials, including large quantities of bedding material for paving, paving stones, blocks, cement, and other materials. At the same time, tens of trucks are leaving the Temple Mount carrying hundreds of tons of earth and waste, full of archeological findings from all the periods, and in this way causing grave damage to the existing archeological texture, without any supervision.
3. All the above activities are being made following your decision and approval, despite the opposition of senior government functions who are responsible for these matters, including the Antiquities Authority, the Legal Advisor to the Government, and the Jerusalem Municipality. The activities are being made without supervision on the Temple Mount by personnel of the Antiquities Authority, who have not been allowed to enter the Mount since the commencement of the bloodshed at the end of September.
4. These activities represent grave violations of the laws of the country, including the Antiquities Law and the Planning and Construction Law, and violation of the agreements and promises formulated during the year following our forceful demands to halt the systematic destruction of activities carried out by the Moslem Wakf over the course of the year.
5. Yesterday, during the hours of darkness, a mechanical vehicle/ equipment, including a mechanical hammer for breaking rocks, was brought into the Temple Mount. This was the first time such equipment was brought into the Temple Mount, since in the past it had not been permitted to use such equipment because of its power and its capability of damaging and significantly changing the rock and the structure of the Mount, including destruction of massive antiquities, such as walls and buildings. We are apprehensive of the results of such an operation involving speedy and extensive destruction, such as was done exactly one year ago by three tractors, which continuously for three days excavated a tremendous pit of area 2,000 m2 and depth of 12m, while causing tremendous and unprecedented damage to the Temple Mount. On that occasion 12,000 tons of earth, containing numerous archeological findings from the periods of the First and Second Temples, were dumped on the Jerusalem rubbish dump.
6. The work being carried out causes serious and irreversible damage to the most important archeological site in Israel, which is of paramount importance to the Jewish people. This is intolerable damage to values of science, culture, and archeology, of world importance.
7. Your clear and unambiguous position during the Camp David talks regarding the importance of the Temple Mount to the Jewish people, and the obligation to preserve it because of its importance and holiness, does not conform with the consent that you give, time after time, to continue the destructive and illegal work on the Temple Mount. You are obligated to preserve the Temple Mount in a practical and real way, and not just by using words that fail to relate to the actual deeds being done in practice.
8. We demand that you immediately halt the work being carried out, remove the heavy equipment including the mechanical hammer for stone breaking and the large tractor from the area of the Temple Mount, and make any action performed on the Temple Mount conditional on close supervision by personnel of the Antiquities Authority and receipt of precise, detailed prior approval by all the government functions responsible for the matter.
Dr. Gabi Barkai
Dr. Shmuel Berkovitz, lawyer
Israel Caspi, lawyer
Dr. Eilat Mazar
Dr. Orit Zur
Prof. Amos Kloner
The committee for the prevention of destruction of antiquities on the Temple Mount
54, Rabbi Akiva St., Herzliya