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Fatwa Council condemns "excavations" under the Al-Aqsa Mosque as “vain attempts to find proof of their presence”

“The [Palestinian] Supreme Fatwa Council… called on the residents of Jerusalem, Hebron, and Palestine, and everyone who can to come to the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Ibrahimi Mosque (i.e., Cave of the Patriarchs) in order to carry out Ribat (i.e., religious conflict over land claimed to be Islamic) there, increase the presence there, and fill them with prayer and devotion to the service of Allah.

The council also condemned the excavation operations that the occupation authorities are carrying out with full vigor under the ground of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, which has caused cracks and extensive landslides in Hawsh Al-Nayrasat in the Chain Gate [neighborhood] inside the Old City [of Jerusalem] (sic., see note below regarding Arab claims of damage caused by Israeli excavations). This is amid vain attempts to find proof of their presence, and they will not succeed in doing this regardless of how much they try to erase its [Jerusalem’s Arab] identityand exaggerate in crimes, aggression, and falsifying the facts.”

Claims that Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem are endangered by excavations, including excavations under the Temple Mount - The PA regularly claims that Israeli archaeological excavations in Jerusalem endanger Arab residents and their neighborhoods, and that Israel excavates under the Temple Mount, thereby endangering the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Regarding the Temple Mount claim, the Israeli daily Haaretz has reported that the excavations do not reach beneath the mosque: "Despite complaints from the Islamic Movement and Palestinian groups, not a single dig penetrates beneath the [Temple] Mount." [Haaretz, May 24, 2016] As for claims that Israeli excavations endanger Arab residents of Jerusalem and their neighborhoods, and particularly of Silwan – a predominantly Arab neighborhood near the Old City of Jerusalem, built above the ruins of ancient Jerusalem – the Israeli Supreme Court has rejected several such petitions. These petitions targeted excavations in the City of David archaeological site, which have been conducted for around 50 years and unearthed a multitude of artifacts, proving the Jewish presence in the city from the First Temple period that began in approximately 1000 BCE. Israeli Supreme Court Justice Edna Arbel responded to one petition (High Court of Justice file 9252/080) against the excavations by saying: “The [Arab] petitioners did not present any evidence that would substantiate a connection between the excavations and the damages that were allegedly caused to their homes… It had been made clear that the excavation work… was being done under the supervision and accompaniment of professionals.” In a separate ruling (High Court of Justice file 1308/08), Arbel said: “Notwithstanding the claims of the petitioners, it was explained that the work is being done under professional engineering supervision and as part of an approved construction plan… The work is performed with the accompaniment and supervision of professionals, not as the petitioners claim, and it is clear that these professionals are not only concerned about the completion of the work… but also are aware of their obligation to make sure the work is done in a way that will not harm the petitioners, their family members, or their property.” According to reports, many Arab residents of Silwan even worked on the excavations until threats from the PA and Hamas forced them to stop. Source:

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