07 August 2018

The Islamic Waqf department in Jerusalem, which is in charge of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, warned in a recent press release against Israeli digs below the Muslim holy place.

Waqf director, Azzam al-Khatib, said Israel was secretly carrying out digs below the Islamic Museum, on the western side of the Mosque compound, with an intention to link together the tunnels under Jerusalem’s Old City and Al-Aqsa Mosque, particularly with the Umayyad Palaces below the Islamic Museum.

“We are taking this matter very seriously and with deep concern,” he said in a statement.

Khatib called on UNESCO and the Jordanian government, which is the custodian over the Muslim holy places in Jerusalem, to send teams to inspect what Israel is doing below the Mosque, which could eventually harm the foundations of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock next to it.

His warning came amidst reports that a large stone fell from the northwestern side of the wall of Jerusalem’s Old City, prompting Waqf officials to warn of the possibility of other stones falling due to the Israeli digs in the area.

The Israeli authorities shut down the area where the stone fell after the incident and refused to give information about the reasons for its fall close to Magharibah Gate.

Responding to the incident, Jordanian government spokeswoman Jumana Ghneimat denounced Israel’s subsequent moving of the stone, saying this act was an infringement on the rights of the Islamic Awqaf (endowment) department that is in charge of the Wall and area surrounding Al-Aqsa Mosque.

According to the Jordanian news agency, Petra, Ghneimat expressed Jordan’s “absolute rejection of the Israeli authorities’ moving of the stone,” saying it “constitutes an interference in the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem Awqaf Department, which is the national body that has the authority over all the affairs of the Al Aqsa Mosque / the Al Haram al-Sharif under international law.”

She stressed that “these serious and irresponsible Israeli actions constitute a flagrant violation of international laws and conventions,” and underlined the need for the international community “to act and shoulder its responsibilities in pressuring Israel to stop its violations against the holy sites in Jerusalem.”

The Jordanian official held the Israeli government fully responsible for the safety of Al-Aqsa Mosque with all its facilities, demanding that “it must immediately stop its unilateral actions,” according to Petra news agency.