Update Passover/Ramadan 2022 Violence

Passover/Ramadan Violenceon Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif Threatens Integrity of World Heritage Site Mosque and Other Structures

 Emek Shaveh is concerned over recent events on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif ■ Vandalism of stained-glass windows on the al-Aqsa/Qibli mosque is not only an attack on one of the most important  holy sites in the world but also on one of the central structures in a World Heritage site ■ Israel Antiquities Authority surveyed the Holy Esplanade under pressure from right-wing groups who accused Palestinians of destroying antiquities, but concluded that no antiquities were damaged

Vandalising of the Stained Glass Windows:
On Friday, April 15th, violent confrontations between police and Palestinians resulted in the shattering of stained-glass windows on the al-Aqsa/Qibli mosque.  Both Palestinians and Israelis accused the other side of vandalism. This is not the first time that the stained-glass windows have been damaged. In 2016, UNESCO’s World Heritage convention expressed regret at the damage to al Aqsa’s stained-glass windows in 2014.  Last May, the windows were once again shattered and a lengthy process of restoration by a special committee of  craftspeople was undertaken to fix them.

The al-Aqsa Mosque is situated in the southwestern corner of the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif. Historians date the construction of the Mosque to the early 8th century CE, either to Abd al-Malik’s reign, or to his son’s, al-Walid I (705-715). The structure was rebuilt several times and renovated in 1035 CE during the Fatimid Caliphate, following the earthquake of 1033 CE. The stained-glass windows date to later periods. Several of the windows were created in the 16th century, but most are either from the 19th or 20th century. They feature a wealth of designs and verses from the Quran. As mentioned, the windows were damaged and repaired several times over the past decade.

The Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount compound as a whole is a collection of magnificent buildings that exemplify the very best of local lslamic architecture from the past 1300 years. The significance of the site as a holy place in the Islamic tradition led to the construction of nearly one-hundred structures on the site, built between the 8th century CE and the 20th century

Israeli Antiquities Authority Survey of the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif 

Director-General of the Israel Antiquities Authority Eli Eskozido bowed to right-wing pressure and instructed an archaeologist from the Authority to survey the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif yesterday to assess alleged damage to antiquities. Right-wing organizations headed by “In our hands” (refers to the 1967 paratroopers commander radio quote “The Temple Mount is in our hands”) have accused the Palestinians of throwing stones that were in fact antiquities and destroying these in the process. Archaeologist Amit Re’em from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) surveyed the area and said the stones were taken from a pile in a grove near the Gates of Mercy and that no structures were destroyed.

Emek Shaveh’s response:
We are following the events at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif with increased concern. Maintaining the status-quo on the Holy Esplanade is crucial not only for the safety of millions of people living in the region but also for the preservation of the holy sites and historic structures that make up one of the world’s most important World Heritage Sites.

We highly lament actions by the security forces that could result in damage to the al Aqsa/Qibli mosque or any other structures on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif. We urge the Israeli government and particularly the Ministry of Internal Security and the Israeli police to do everything in their power to safeguard the heritage assets on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif and prevent any further damage to these monuments.

Regarding the visit by the IAA to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif on Tuesday (April 19th), we commend the Israeli Antiquities Authority for resisting right-wing pressure to accuse the Palestinians on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif of destruction of antiquities. As we have seen in the past, access by the Antiquities Authority to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif and the ability to exercise oversight over its historic assets is dependent on the preservation of the status-quo.