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TURKISH COMMISSION: Excavations in Jerusalem threaten Islamic Heritage

 Friday 16 November 2007, 06:46 PM

 The Turkish Technical Committee confirmed in its report that the excavation that is taking place under Al-Aqsa Mosque in Quds is  destroying the Islamic heritage of the holy Quds city.

     The technical committee report which was completed last June was previously agreed upon by the Turkish and the Israeli government. The report stressed upon the immediacy of stopping such excavations because they are directed towards the destruction of Islamic heritage in an orderly and deliberate manner.
      According to the report drilling operations have no clear or specific plan therefore need to be ceased immediately. The excavations are destroying valuble archeological remains from the Caliphate of the Ummayyads, Ayyubis, Mamluks and Ottomans.
      It is important to mention that this report was presented to Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas in the meeting that recently took place in Ankara. However, the report avoided direct criticism of the Israelis and used the phrase “appropriate time”.
      It should be also noted that the Turkish Comission’s report was issued after  UNESCO issued its examination  report on the excavations on February 27 to March 2 . In this report UNESCO  called for a scientific scheme for the repairment so as to preserve the historical heritage of the place. The report said that the development of Turkish road at Al-Maghriba Gate must be carried out through an international project which involves collaboration of Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian.
During Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s visit to Ankara, Turkish Prime Minister President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Olmert agreed upon that the comission is to be headed by Ercan Ozer, Turkish Consul General in Jerusalem, architects Prof. Dr. Sen Muharram Alp , Dr. Said Basaran and Prof. Dr. Eng. Metin Ilkasik.

The Israeli ambassador in Ankara Gabi Levy told the Turkish  newspaper Zaman that they honor this report and even though the report contained criticisms against Israel it would not affect the relations between two countries.

     The report conveyed facts from 16 recommendations about  Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. The most important points being that the city of Jerusalem is historical and sacred to all religions. It is inhabited  by the people of three religions and all of them are linked to its religious and cultural heritage. Jerusalem is a historic residential block where people of all three faiths live together and cannot unite .

UN Resolution No. 252 dated  21 May demanded  no change in the historical and legal status of Quds. The report about the excavations  indicate that there was deliberate intentions to excavate beyond scientific exploration. The report reveals  a contradiction between the Israeli claims and the reality in respect to the  Judaization of Jerusalem.
       The report also called to set up a joint working committee to watch over the extent of excavations and to cease the construction of the bridge which might lead to the collapse of  Al Maghriba gate. The report called for collaboration between Israeli and the Palestinian experts to reestablish the talks and events for solidarity, peace and coexistence.
       The report consists of 5 sections and it was completed in June. The report contains photographs and historical documents and like the UN report it calls for immediate stop of the excavation because it will cause a serious injury to the structure of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

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