From the Chicago Tribune, widely reprinted:
Excavations incite clash between Israeli police, PalestiniansKing Abdullah of Jordan and archaeologist Meir Ben Dov are protesting too:
By Joel Greenberg
JERUSALEM - Israeli riot police hurling stun grenades fought crowds of stone-throwing Palestinians outside Al Aqsa Mosque, Islam's third-holiest shrine, Friday in a clash triggered by Israeli excavations near the site that have drawn sharp condemnations across the Arab world.
The confrontation after Friday prayers, beamed live across the Middle East by satellite news channels, ended with no serious injuries, but it raised concerns that the protests could spread to the West Bank and Gaza Strip and inflame religious passions throughout the region.
The Israeli excavation, in preparation for construction of a new approach ramp for visitors to the hilltop compound known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount, has become the latest flashpoint of the struggle for the contested area - ground zero of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Abdullah decries Temple Mount actionFrom U.P.I:
By JPOST STAFF, JOSHUA BRANNON, AND NEWS AGENCIES
Jordan's King Abdullah II on Friday condemned what he called Israel's "violations" against protestors at Jerusalem's Temple Mount compound, and warned such practices would only enhance violence and place "obstacles" in the path of peace.
"Jordan will push ahead with Arab and Islamic contacts as well as on the international level to ensure that Israel halts such deeds, which only lead to the expansion of the violence cycle and places obstacles versus efforts aimed at re-launching the peace process," Abdullah told Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in a telephone conversation, a royal court statement said.
"The King expressed concerns over the dangerous Israeli escalation against the Islamic holy places and rejected all pretexts cited by Israel as a cover-up for its violations of al-Aksa Mosque," it added.
Meanwhile, in an interview with Israel Radio on Friday morning, archaeologist Meir Ben Dov, who headed previous excavation work at the Temple Mount site, said there was no need for the renovations to be carried out at the Mughrabi Gate and that the planned bridge was not required.
Ben Dov added that the excavations near the Temple Mount were illegal and that Israel had not received the required permits.
Analysis: Temple Mount clashes, againFrom Israel Insider:
By JOSHUA BRILLIANT
JERUSALEM, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- Clashes at one of the world's holiest sites between stone-throwing Muslim demonstrators and Israeli policemen in heavy riot gear Friday ended with 30 injuries and fears it could be a harbinger of something far worse.
Most of the fighting was on a plaza the Jews call the Temple Mount, their holiest site, and the Muslims al-Aqsa, their third holiest site.
The dispute was over excavations the Israelis launched along a ramp leading to the plaza's southwestern Moors' Gate. Part of that ramp collapsed following an earthquake and snowstorms in 2004. The Israelis built a wooden bridge nearby and sought to replace it with something sturdier.
They launched "salvage excavations," an archaeological procedure designed "to prevent and minimize damage which could be caused to ancient remains as a result of the construction," the Israel Antiquities Authority said. These excavations will not extend to the Temple Mount's wall, the authority's spokeswoman Osnat Gouez said.
The Waqf that manages the al-Aqsa compound protested the excavations and Muslims repeated charges that Israel was threatening their mosques.
"No one moves a stone here without a political consideration," argued Arab Knesset Member Talab al-Sana. "The conspiracies regarding al-Aqsa have not ceased" and, "of course" Israel was digging under the mosques.
Witness a big lie in the making!From Time Magazine:
By Moshe Kempinski February 9, 2007
If you follow the news carefully over the next couple of weeks you will be able to witness the careful and delicate work of creating a false new "reality". What began as an attempt to rebuild a damaged ramp leading to the Mughrabi gate has escalated into an international incident. The work is proceeding near a temporary walkway that replaces a centuries-old stairway which collapsed during storms in 2004. The Israeli authorities have explained that the renovations are needed to safeguard the ancient site and have told all the critics that there will be no structural damage to the ancient site or to the Temple Mount beside it.
Yet those facts will not deter the forces in the Arab world that are trying to diffuse and end the inter Palestinian warfare. ...
Raiders of the Temple MountOther articles are pouring in faster than I can keep track of them, but this should give you the general idea.
Friday, Feb. 09, 2007 By TIM MCGIRK/JERUSALEM
Amid the old city of Jerusalem and rising above it is the ancient site of Solomon's Temple and the point from which the Prophet Mohammed journeyed to Heaven. Holy to Jews and Muslims, it is as dangerous these days as a ticking atom bomb. Any readjustment of its ancient stones can detonate outrage among millions of faithful around the world. On Friday, Muslims in Jerusalem protested against Israeli excavation work next to al-Aqsa, one of Islam's holiest shrines, which sits atop the site. Around the world, Muslims declared a universal "day of anger," Israeli police stormed into the Muslim compound and fired stun grenades and rubber bullets at youths trying to hurl stones at Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall. Israeli police claim that 17 protesters and 15 police officers were injured in the clashes, but Palestinians say many more were hurt in skirmishes around the mosque grounds.
Muslims also say that the excavations will also be destroying chunks of their religious heritage, but Israeli archeologists and Palestinian workers on the site are clearing away every stone and pottery fragment with the precision of surgeons. Not that it matters. Throughout the Muslim world, the Israeli excavations adjacent to al-Aqsa are being portrayed as sacrilege, as another blow by Israel and, indirectly, by its ally America, against Islam. For the last three days, the story has topped headlines and news broadcasts throughout the Muslim world.
All this hostility could have been avoided, say Israeli experts, if the authorities had first sought clearance from the Waqf, the Islamic board which governs the al-Aqsa mosque. ...