Threat to Al Aqsa Mosque greater than ever after media and critics swayed by Israeli campaign

March 17, 2007 8:45 PM IMEMC & Agencies Holy sites, Jerusalem, News Report 0

A prominent Jerusalem cartographer reported Saturday, “The demolition and excavation that began at the Moroccan Gate will allow Israelis and extremist Jews free access to the courtyard of Al Aqsa Mosque while it restricts freedom of movement and access to the Palestinians.” A prominent Jerusalem cartographer reported Saturday, “The demolition and excavation that began at the Moroccan Gate will allow Israelis and extremist Jews free access to the courtyard of Al Aqsa Mosque while it restricts freedom of movement and access to the Palestinians.”

The popular resistance against the ongoing Israeli aggressions at Al Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem’s Old City have slowed down for the time being, while Israeli forces have accelerated the excavations. A new tunnel beneath the walls of the Muslim holy site is near completion, threatening the mosque with collapse.

Director of Al Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Farid Yahya, says that Israeli forces worked day and night at an unprecedented pace to dig a tunnel concealed from view. They managed to do so, the Sheikh said Saturday, by going in through a small shop that they bought on Al Wad Street near Ras Al Amud for 60,000 dollars.

Yahya said they began digging a tunnel from the inside, working clandestinely and quickly, after closing the shop doors. The work is ongoing in several directions around Al Wad Street leading to the gates of Al Aqsa Mosque.

The Israeli administration had been able to appease the international community by installing a camera in one area of the excavations and showing other investigative groups particular spots of work, with the only claim in one area to be that they were building a Jewish synagogue, said Yahya. “This is going on in broad daylight, but they were able to portray what is happening in the media as fairly innocuous. This is not an individual incident. Follow-up shows that many excavations that lead to full takeovers have been carried out in this way.”

The Sheikh continued, “There are extremist Jewish organizations on record as funding the scheme to undermine Al Aqsa Mosque and wipe out the Muslim presence and history from the city.” Although there was a great deal of protest and media attention for a time, it seems that most have been placated, Yahya noted. “This is the most dangerous situation of all.”

An expert in the field of Israeli settlements and the Director of the Cartographic Section of the Arab Studies Society in Jerusalem, Khalil Tafkaji, said that Israeli forces are continuing with the plan to fully control occupied Jerusalem and establish a Jewish temple on the grounds of Al Aqsa Mosque. “The construction is at record costs with the new tunnel beginning under the Holy City in 1998. The demolition and excavation that began at Moroccans Gate will allow Israelis and extremist Jews free access to the courtyard of Al Aqsa Mosque while it restricts freedom of movement and access to the Palestinians.”

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