Searching Google News the last while, I have been consistently amazed at what a big story the alleged “Temple Mount dig” has become. It seems that every major (and minor) news outlet is covering it as if it’s the story of the decade.
The claims against Israel are absurd on multiple levels, but for the initiated they may not seem so.
First of all, let’s just understand the basic layout of the area. This map comes courtesy of Lonely Man of Cake.
Green: The Temple Mount and surrounding area under complete control of the Waqf.
Yellow: The Western Wall.
Red: The construction area in question.
Specifically, the red area is the Mugrabi Bridge, the sole access from the Jewish Quarter onto the Temple Mount and the only entrance from which non-Muslims may enter. The bridge was badly damaged in an earthquake a few years ago and a temporary structure was built adjacent to it, cutting into the already cramped women’s section, as you can see here.
Note: the bridge in question is completely outside the area surrounding the Temple Mount.
In 1967 Israel captured the entire Temple Mount area, but ceded control of the day to day affairs on the Mount itself to the Muslim Waqf, keeping control of the area outside, including the Western Wall and the the Mugrabi Bridge.
Now, one reason that this newest instance of “Muslim outrage” is so absurd is that the Waqf itself has been digging ON the Temple Mount since 1996.
Their digging, by contrast, has been using bulldozers to quite literally rip up priceless archaeological artifacts, many of which are from the first and second temple periods, before unceremoniously dumping them outside the area. This digging, unsupervised by the Antiquities Authority, has caused severe structural damage to the area. While this is in complete violation of 1967’s Protection of Holy Places Law, Israel has barely raised a peep about it, let alone used it as an excuse for violence.
The real reason for all this brouhaha is the recent accord signed between Hamas and Fatah which will create a unity government and hopefully end the civil war that’s been raging in Gaza as well as the sanctions that have been imposed on the Palestine Authority. Consequently, Palestinian leaders have two items on their agenda. First they need to get international recognition of the accord. This will be tough to do given that Hamas has not agreed to recognize Israel, end violence against Israel or live up to previous agreements signed with Israel. The next item on the agenda is to end the fighting in Gaza between Hamas ad Fatah militants. That promises to be a lot easier given events on the Temple Mount. With everyone’s focus on the dastardly deeds being done by the Jews, gunmen will hopefully put aside their political differences and focus on the one thing everyone in Gaza can support – sheer hatred of the Jews.
There are a dozen other things that could be mentioned about the Temple Mount and the absurdity of the uproar over digging and construction outside it, but for the sake of space, I’ll leave it here. Whatever else is going on, it is important to remember that the Temple Mount is the most important place in Judaism, being the site of the Binding of Isaac, the home of the First and Second Temples, and the location of a chance encounter which led to the founding of Jewlicious. Tradition tells us on that day ck almost had Laya arrested, but that’s a story for another time.