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Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine
UK architects, planners and other construction industry professionals campaigning for a just peace in Israel/Palestine.


Changing the Landscape 

Extremist Jewish Settlers, El Ad and the Israeli Antiquity Authority
Destroys Historic Sites in East Jerusalem
February 7, 2007

Israeli Archeologists and Jewish Extremist settlers moved yesterday with mechanical equipment to destroy the historic passage way which connected the Mughrabi Quarter to the Mughrabi Gate, one of Al Aqsa Mosque Compound gates facing west.  The Mughrabi Quarter which consisted of 135 Palestinian houses, two mosques and two zaouis was destroyed on June 11, 1967, by the Israeli army.  On April 18, 1968, the Israeli Government officially expropriated the land of the quarter along with the Jewish quarter for public use.  In the Moroccan Quarter’s place, it built a large plaza in front of the Western Wall.     

The passage was spared then, but together with the Mughrabi gate keys, was placed under the control of the Israeli Police Authorities. The Israeli Archeological digs in search of the Jewish Temple ruins at the foot of the passage way which followed,  revealed Islamic Ummayad and Mamluki remains only, and inevitably weakened the support of the passage way.   In fact it turned it into a susceptible ramp.  The Israeli Government did not allow the Islamic Waqf Authorities which has property claims over the entire region, including the passage way,  to carry out any restoration works to bolster its structure.

The foundations of historic stone passage which became vulnerable without the necessary support was hit hard during a snow storm three years ago.    The Israeli Government,  its Archeology and Antiquity Department moved in quickly to build a temporary wooden walkway on stilts to render the historic way obsolete.  And, again it did not allow the Islamic Waqf Authorities to repair the damage on the stone passage.

Yesterday,  Israeli archaeologists together with Israeli extremist settlers from El Ad, and without consultations with the lawful owners; the Islamic Waqf Authorities,  began digging up the stone passage to remove it and replace it by a new 100 metre-long raised walkway. 

The two protagonists of the works which began yesterday were Dr Gideon Avni, director of excavations and surveys at the Israel Antiquities Authority,  and The head of El Ad; a Jewish extremist settlers organization, and head of the Israeli National Parks’ Authorities. Inconsistent stories were fed to the press yesterday in order to mar the truth behind the collusion of these two parties.  The sources of the Israeli Antiquities Authority announced that the work is intended to repair the damage to the passage or “ramp”  and is necessary on safety grounds, and that any repair work in the Old City should be preceded by archeological excavations.  "The excavations are being carried out according to procedure by a team of professional archaeologists and experts,"  the same source added.    But, on the ground,  what we all saw yesterday were dozens of armed police who stood guard as two “mechanical diggers” began taking up the stone of the passage way.

Simultaneously, the same source announced that experts from the Israel Antiquities Authority are also excavating at three places to the south-west corner of the site in what is now the “Jerusalem Archaeological Park, where engineers plan to install a series of pylons to support the proposed new walkway.  This announcement was followed by an additional version namely that “the works are intended to dig and restore the archeological park of the Al Aqsa Mosque”. The latter fictitious story ironically holds the facts of the matter; it reveals the role of El Ad’s Director who is also the head of the Israeli National Parks’ Authority.  After the passage is completely removed, and the archeological digs completed, the Waqf property where the passage rests will be confiscated as an  “Israeli national park area”  and will be added to the “Jerusalem Archeological Park”  which flanks it from the south west area. 
For Info about El Ad and the Old City, please visit: