Police Halt Temple Mt. Work

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Jerusalem police have stopped a project being conducted by the Muslim religious trust (Wakf), which oversees the Old City's Temple Mount until archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) can examine the unauthorized construction.

The Wakf supervises daily administration of the Temple Mount, though Israel is responsible for its overall security.

According to Palestinian Authority (PA) Jerusalem Affairs Minister Adnan Husseini, the construction involves replacing deteriorated tiles.

"They are not digging or doing anything there but restoration," Husseini said.

But Jerusalem Police chief Aharon Franco said opposition they encountered when ordering a halt to the construction indicated a connection with recent Arab protests in east Jerusalem over Israel's counter-terror operations in the Gaza Strip.

While the police chief didn't elaborate on the tie between the construction and the protests, he did speak of police officers' responsibility on the Temple Mount.

"It is our duty to ensure that the status quo is maintained on the Temple Mount," Franco said, adding that the police have worked hard to ensure that people of all faiths can visit the Temple Mount. In the past, the threat of Muslim violence often prevented the Mount from being open to the public.

"Maintaining Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, including the Old City, is at the "top [of] police goals."

For many years, independent Israeli archaeologists with expertise in the Temple Mount area have pleaded with the government and the IAA to put a stop to the Wakf's destruction of antiquities, which shed light on the Mount's Jewish history.

IAA spokeswoman Yoli Shwartz said they would be looking into the Wakf's recent construction.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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