Last week, a “sink hole” opened up in the pavement on the southern section of the Temple Mount. Apparently, a large paving stone fell in, revealing a massive, ancient tunnel below.
At first, the Israel Police prevented the Wakf from sealing up the hole – but only one day later, the Wakf filled it with cement, sealing it up and preventing any exploration of the space below or preservation of the treasures it may hold.
The newly-poured cement may obscure the passageway or cistern that lies below – but it reveals something else: Israel is losing the Temple Mount a little more every day. The erosion of Israeli sovereignty at the very epicenter of Jewish religious and national history is undeniable. At the same time, it is avoidable, and correctable.
This latest travesty is one more example of the State of Israel’s disgraceful behavior on the Temple Mount. The fateful decision to cede Israeli sovereignty to the hands of the Islamic Trust (Wakf) in the days following the Six Day War was bad enough; Israel’s failure to enforce compliance with the terms of this “arrangement” has erased the agreed-upon status quo and made a mockery of the victory that reunited Jerusalem and repatriated the biblical heartland of Israel that had been illegally occupied by Jordan for 19 years – at an unspeakable cost in Jewish blood, sweat and tears.
Despite the “status quo” agreement, the Wakf has established 4 new mosques on the Temple Mount, the most recent of which is housed in the oldest structure on the site. This new mosque at the Mercy Gate (also known as the Golden Gate), is a hotbed of radical Islamist agitation. Others, particularly the largest, in Solomon’s Stables, disrupted countless layers of priceless historical artifacts that bear physical testimony to thousands of years of Jewish history.
The Temple Mount is far from unique in this respect. Throughout Judea and Samaria, hundreds of archaeological sites have been looted, defaced, and in some cases, completely decimated – both in areas entrusted to the Palestinian Authority for safekeeping by the Oslo Accords, and in areas under full Israeli jurisdiction. Sites that have survived for millennia are falling prey to rapacious piracy, PA-sanctioned obliteration, or “re-interpretation,” as the Palestinian Authority recasts ancient Jewish and Christian places of worship and settlement as “Palestinian Heritage Sites” as part of a wide-scale program of revisionism and erasure of the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel. Rather than protecting sites of premier importance to the Jewish People and of irreplaceable value for scientific study of the archaeology and history of the ancient world, the State of Israel has backed away as the Palestinian Authority has pursued an aggressive campaign to rewrite history and create a Palestinian narrative of indigeneity.
As in these other cases, the Regavim Movement has demanded answers from the relevant authorities regarding the Wakf’s disregard for police orders to leave the sink-hole accessible for examination and restoration. In the latest case of the sink-hole on the Temple Mount, there is no shortage of responsible parties – the Israel Police, the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Jerusalem Municipality. What is in woefully short supply is political backbone and national resolve. It is long past time to put an end to the Wakf’s abuses on the Temple Mount, and the Palestinian Authority’s assault on the heritage and history of the Jewish People in the Jewish homeland.
This article also appeared in Israel National News (Arutz 7).