Biblical Archaeology Review 34:3, May/June 2008

Strata: Israeli Authorities Acquiesce in Destruction of Temple Mount Antiquities

In devastating detail, veteran archaeological reporter for the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz Nadav Shragai describes the damage to antiquities deliberately inflicted on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem by the Muslim religious trust known as the Waqf with the quiet acquiescence of Israeli authorities. Even the Israel Supreme Court has declined to intervene, despite the clear violation of Israeli law.

Director of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) Yehoshua (Shuka) Dorfman told a Knesset (parliament) committee, according to Shragai, that “in practice [the IAA] had been denied access to the Temple Mount and did not receive information about what occurred there.” Quoting Dorfman: “We receive all our information about what happens ... from the Israeli police ... We don’t go there.”

According to a high-ranking Israeli police officer quoted by Shragai, “It is a known fact that antiquities are being damaged on the Temple Mount. The alternative is a riot every other day. Those in authority have to decide what they prefer, and we prefer quiet because, with all due respect to the antiquities, the top priority of the State of Israel on the Temple Mount is quiet, not riots, even if the antiquities pay the price.”

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