By Nadav Shragai, June 18, 2000
The Islamic Movement in Israel has a master plan to build a fourth mosque on
the eastern side of the Temple Mount, according to a detailed report
prepared by security officials concerning how the Waqf (Islamic religious
trust) and the Islamic Movement envision the holy site. The construction of
the mosque is a long-term plan which is currently only in the discussion
stage, unlike the other plans outlined in the report.
Raid Salah, one of the heads of the Islamic Movement, told Ha’aretz that the
entire area of the Temple Mount is an inseparable and integral part of the
Al Aqsa Mosque. Salah denied the movement’s intentions to build a fourth
mosque on the site.
The plans of the Waqf and the Islamic Movement for the Temple Mount include
replacing the door of the Mugrabi gate with an iron gate and digging in the
area nearby; digging in an extensive area along the eastern wall of the
Temple Mount, digging in the area above the hand-washing facility in the
area of Bab Al Houta; digging on the slope leading to the new gates
constructed in Solomon’s Stables to prevent the seepage of rainwater into
the mosque; and replacing the old entrance into Solomon’s Stables, from the
direction of the Al Aqsa mosque, turning it into an emergency exit, after
the new gate has been turned into the main entrance.
The Committee for the Prevention of Damage to Antiquities on the Temple
Mount – a non-partisan body comprised of members representing a range of
political views – is calling on the prime minister to order the Waqf and
heads of the Muslim community to declare a freeze on the current situation
of the Temple Mount and define a new status quo.
In a statement published Friday by the group, the organization said that if
the Waqf carries out all its plans for the holy site, the face of the mount will be
completely altered, let alone the damage caused to antiquities at the site.
The body wants a permanent inspector from the Antiquities Authority stationed
at the site and an end to building materials being brought onto the mount and
soil being dug out of it. In addition, the organization demands that the site be
opened and freely available to the Israeli and international media so as to
“prevent the Waqf from hiding information on the going-ons at the site.”
Jerusalem police commander Yair Yitzhaki told the Knesset Education
Committee a few months back that the Waqf has six separate building plans
prepared for the Temple Mount, but refused to go into details.
An appeal to the District Court by Yehuda Etzion of the Hai Vekayam movement
that demanded the Waqf reveal their plans for the site on the basis of the
Freedom of Information Act met with the state’s refusal since the
information was considered secret. The court is yet to decide whether to
force the government to publish the Waqf’s blueprints.