Waqf says Israel didn’t damage any historic items on Temple Mount
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Waqf says Israel didn’t damage any historic items on Temple Mount

Nonetheless, a technical committee, formed during recent conflict over holy site, condemns what it calls 'unjustified searches' by Israel

Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent.

Israeli security forces stand before Palestinians on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on July 27, 2017, with the Al-Aqsa mosque appearing in the background. (AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI)
Israeli security forces stand before Palestinians on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on July 27, 2017, with the Al-Aqsa mosque appearing in the background. (AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI)

The Jerusalem Waqf said on Wednesday that when Israeli security services conducted searches on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem following a shooting attack at the site, they did not damage or steal any historical items.

Israeli police closed down the Temple Mount on July 14 after three Arab Israelis smuggled guns into the compound and used them to shoot two policemen to death.

The shutdown lasted for two days while police investigated the incident. Israel then reopened the site with newly installed metal detectors and cameras — security measures that led to two weeks of protests by Palestinians. The measures were eventually removed.

The Waqf, a Jordanian government institution that administers the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif, convened a technical committee to evaluate any damage caused by the Israeli police during the crisis.

Palestinian women read at the al-Aqsa mosque compound library in Jerusalem. (photo credit: AP Photo/Dusan Vranic)
Palestinian women read at the al-Aqsa mosque compound library in Jerusalem. (photo credit: AP Photo/Dusan Vranic)

On Wednesday the committee released its report, which said that Israeli forces had not damaged or stolen any historical objects or documents at the site, which includes mosques, museums and libraries that house Islamic artifacts.

“There are no deficiencies of historical value in the safety boxes, inventory or exhibits,” the report said.

However, the report did say Israel had rummaged through and possibly copied computer files and broken into private lockers in order to carry out what it called “unjustified searches.”

An employee shows an old manuscript at the al-Aqsa mosque compound library in Jerusalem. The library has a collection of some 4,000 old manuscripts with about a quarter considered in poor condition. (photo credit: AP Photo/Dusan Vranic)
An employee shows an old manuscript at the al-Aqsa mosque compound library in Jerusalem. The library has a collection of some 4,000 old manuscripts with about a quarter considered in poor condition. (photo credit: AP Photo/Dusan Vranic)

During the searches Israeli police found several weapons, but no guns or serious explosives, Jerusalem Police Chief Yoram Halevi said.

“We found dozens of knives, slingshots, cudgels, spikes, inciting material, unexploded munitions, stun grenades, binoculars — but we haven’t yet found caches of live ammunition,” he told Army Radio at the time.

The fate of the Temple Mount is an emotional issue at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Even the smallest perceived change to delicate arrangements pertaining to the site sparks tensions.

Jews revere the hilltop compound as the Temple Mount, site of the two Jewish biblical temples. It is the holiest site in Judaism, and the nearby Western Wall, a remnant of one of the temples, is the holiest place where Jews can pray.

The walled compound is home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. It is Islam’s third-holiest site after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. Muslims believe the site marks the spot where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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