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Who started the Al Aksa Intifada?

Shlomo Ben Ami and Barak should fear investigation of Temple Mount events.

It has widely been written up in the global news media that the current Intifada was started by MK Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount. For example a Report by Physicians for Human Rights of Boston is quoted as saying:
"The current crisis was ignited on September 28, when Israel's Likud Party leader, Ariel Sharon, visited Haram al-Sharifa or the Temple Mount, a Jerusalem site sacred to both Jews and Muslims. Accompanied by hundreds of Israeli riot police... Riots and demonstrations by Palestinians followed Sharon's visit..." 1

The AL-AHRAM WEEKLY 2-9 Nov.'00 put it even more succinctly

"Ariel Sharon, with a little help from Barak, triggered the process that would end the 25-year-long peace process..." 2  The weekly also claims "More than Sharon's visit, it was the deliberate murder of 12-year-old Mohamed Al-Dorra that triggered the uprising." 3
What people forget is the reason why MK Ariel Sharon went to the Temple Mount.  He went to investigate the deliberate destruction of portions of Judaism most Holy Site.  The Palestinians have clearly and repeatedly rejected any notion of Jewish legitimacy in the Holy Land, and their destruction of the Temple Mount was tragic and irrepairable attempt to rewrite history.
The Balfour Declaration, the mandate for Palestine and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void.  Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews and [the land of] Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history.. -  The Palestinian National Charter
Six months after the events Palestinian Authority Communications Minister Imad Faluji told a PLO rally in the Ein Hilwe refugee camp in South Lebanon on Friday that the five-month-old intifada was not a spontaneous reaction to the September visit of Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount, but was planned after peace talks failed in July.
"It [the uprising] had been planned since [PA] Chairman [Yasser] Arafat's return from Camp David, when he turned the tables on the former US president and rejected the American conditions," 
-- PA Communications Minister Imad Faluji
March 2, 2001

What really happened.

May 17, 2000
     First reports widespread digging on the Temple Mount.  Yehuda Ezion has managed to get pictures of artifacts drawn out from the debris [discarded by Palestinian digging on the Temple mount] by the Israel Archeological Association [IAA]. In these pictures appears an impressive large stone fragment, which was part of a gate jamb. According to archaeologist, Professor Ronnie Reich, the profile of this stone is very similar to part of the gate jamb in the Triple Gate at the southern wall of the Temple Mount, which is dated to the Second Temple Era. 

May 19, 2000
     Sermon on Temple Mount, Al Aksa Mosque, Jerusalem:  This Mosque will not be entered through negotiations or peace agreements. This Mosque will be entered (liberated) through armies. The armies that will "pound the earth to powder" , that will behead the heads of the disbelievers and their agents. Jerusalem will return to Muslims but not through treason. It will return to Islam and Muslims. It will not be the capital of the Palestinian state, but it will be, Insha'Allah, the capital of the Islamic Khilafah State. The Islamic Khilafah State that will tread on the heads of Europe, Russia and the U.S. This is what Islam tell us, and this how history was. Read history if you want and you will see wars after wars between Islam and the disbelievers that will continue...[4]

June 10, 2000
     New paving construction on the North-Eastern section of the Mount. 

June 11, 2000
     The 'Committee for the Prevention of the Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount' was formed and published a large add in Haaretz daily newspaper. The add contained a petition directed to Israel's Prime Minister to stop the antiquities destruction on the Mount. 80 Knesset Members have signed this petition and many other famous public figures. 

June 12, 2000
     Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Haim Ramon met with The Committee for the Prevention of the Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount. Ramon said that the construction is in it's end and there is nothing much that could be done now. He also said that he will not let the Wakf cross any 'red lines'. However he was not aware that IAA archaeologist are not allowed to document or take pictures on the Mount.

June 12, 2000
     The Media is also reporting about the new construction near the Golden gate. Pictures that were taken a month ago show the construction materials that were prepared for this.

June 13, 2000
     The Temple Institute of Jerusalem has produced a film which documents the archeological destruction and sacrilege of the Temple Mount. This video is called "Reviving the Stones: The Story of Israel's Unfinished Struggle to Claim the Temple Mount." It contains exclusive interviews and footage, and exposes the reality of the Temple Mount today.

June 13, 2000
     Reliable sources say that additional trucks were seen entering and existing the Mount.

June 15, 2000
     Police have stopped Jerusalem municipal officials from inspecting work undertaken by the Waqf (Islamic religious trust) and the Israeli Islamic movement on the Temple Mount. Tractors and trucks have been hard at work in recent weeks, undertaking projects along the eastern ridge of the Temple Mount, up to the Solomon's Stables site where sealed-off areas were opened up four months ago. Two large stone structures have been erected.  The municipality yesterday complained officially about the thwarting of efforts by the head of its supervisory department,

June 15, 2000
     A group of MKs have proposed to join together next week for a tour on the Temple Mount that will include documenting the recent construction and the archaeological relics that are kept on the Mount 

June 15, 2000
     The Committee for the Prevention of the Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount will meet today with IAA Director, Amir Drori

June 18, 2000
     The IAA and the CPDATM has agreed to cooperate together.

June 18, 2000
     It is revealed that the Islamic Movement planning 4th mosque for Temple Mount. The Islamic Movement in Israel has a master plan to build a fourth mosque on the eastern side of the Temple Mount, according to a detailed report prepared by security officials concerning how the Waqf (Islamic religious trust) and the Islamic Movement envision the holy site. The construction of the mosque is a long-term plan which is currently only in the discussion stage, unlike the other plans outlined in the report.

June 18, 2000
     THIS TIME IT IS REALLY A DISASTER. An amateur video was taken a week ago in the new construction area. There is an enormous amount of construction with big masonry stones. The whole east side of the temple mount has become a construction area. Again, trucks are seen entering and existing the mount. There are many new piles of earth. This time it is really a disaster. The new planned construction area is right on the remains of our Temple (According to the tradional conjecture, which places the holy of hollies at the Dome of the Rock).

June 19, 2000
     The MKs tour will take place on Tuesday. We are going to ascent the mount with cameras to document the destruction. I hope things won't blow up in the last minute. IAA director and Jerusalem's district police commander will also join the tour

June 20, 2000
     The MKs tour was a major disappointment. The media was not allowed to join them. They could not enter the subterranean structures in order to examine the amount of construction there. They were not allowed to take any pictures. The Waqf's men caught one of the tour taking pictures. The Old city police commander, Raa'nan Tal, attacked him. He pushed him and threaten to expel him out of the Mount. The Waqf has managed to hide most of the construction materials that were seen in the video.

June 20, 2000
     The IAA has sent an urgent letter to the Attorney General, warning on immediate danger to the section near the eastern wall of the Temple Mount. It is a section of a vault that is continuing north from the Solomon's Stables. In the last days the Waqf has begun disassembling this section. It can be seen in the pictures that will be published here in a few days. An archaeological excavation in this vault can teach us a lot about the area north from Solomon's Stables.

June 22, 2000
     Thanks to Chaim Richman's awareness it is now realizes that Several new ornamental skylights, fashioned of metal and glass, have recently been affixed in the floor over the area where an underground mosque has been established in Solomon's Stables

June 22, 2000
     State Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein will on Thursday meet with senior police commanders and members of the General Security Service (GSS/Shin Bet) to evaluate the situation.

June 23, 2000
     Following a meeting with police and security officials yesterday afternoon, Attorney-General Elyakim Rubinstein decided not to take any steps for now regarding the Wakf construction at the Temple Mount.  His decision came despite a newly released Jerusalem Municipality report detailing serious building violations by the Moslem authorities around the site.  The meeting at the attorney-general's office was held to formulate a response to a petition to the High Court of Justice asking the government to stop the Wakf from carrying out work at the Temple Mount.  Jerusalem Municipality officials expressed their dismay that they were not invited to take part in the meeting, especially in light of the municipality's own report of continuing archeological damage being done at the site. The report notes that two new structures, as well as a number of portable structures, were discovered by municipal officials on a recent inspection and that work is continuing at Solomon's Stables.

June 26, 2000
     Famous writers sent a letter to PM Barak demanding to stop the destruction on the Temple Mount.

June 26, 2000
     The Committee for the Prevention of the Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount met with the State Attorney General, Elyakim Rubinstein. The A-G agreed that the situation on the Temple Mount is most severe. He said that some action to prevent further building had been taken, and more actions will be taken in the future. He directed the police not to allow the entrance of more construction materials. Surprisingly, the A-G was not aware of the media coverage prohibition, and said that there is no law that can base that.

June 26, 2000
     A big cloud of dust was seen today between 18:30-19:30, while a tractor near the Golden Gate was doing construction work. We still don't know exactly what was done there. The CPDATM has urgently applied to Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, to immediately stop the construction.

June 27, 2000
     Tractors and trucks are working on the Mount. A large area is being prepared for pavement construction.

June 28, 2000
     Article by Eilat Mazar that well expresses the Archaeological Atrocity.

June 28, 2000
     PM calls urgent meeting on Temple Mount construction

June 28, 2000
     Biblical Archaeology Review is now covering the Destruction on the Mount with a call for help.

June 28, 2000
     Illegal Temple Mount construction continues : Destruction described as devastating

June 28, 2000
     For over a week the CPDATM has been sending urgent applications to the Prime Minister. The PM office is refusing to relate to these applications in any way.

June 28, 2000
     The meeting at the Prime Minister office ended up in an Orwellian statement released after the meeting, the Prime Minister's Office declared that Barak remained committed to "preserving the status quo and preventing archeological damage." National Security Adviser Danny Yatom later explained that Barak's idea of "status quo" was not to prevent the Wakf from continuing its unsupervised construction. (I don't understand how the current destruction can be called "Status Quo"?)

June 28, 2000
     A small Demonstration near the Lion's gate, against the Waqf's destruction of Temple Mount took place today. The demonstrators were attacked by a mob of 150 Moslems who were organized by the Moslem Waqf on the mount. They tore their signs and beaten them. The police arrested 5 men.

June 29, 2000
     "Yesterday, while walking along the eastern side of the Temple Mount, from south to north, all the evidence of major construction were clearly present. The area is in complete disarray; large portions have been cleared and leveled. Several structures are already in advanced stages of construction; new paving is underway and everywhere, there are large heaps of rubble which clearly contain significant archeological remains. As I had noticed on my visit the previous week, large consignments of construction blocks have been delivered to the site. However, yesterday as I was walking I also saw a large amount of brand-new, long plumbing pipes, the type that is used to lay the plumbing and water systems in large buildings. There were enough pipes there to facilitate the plumbing for a very large structure." Says Chaim Richman who visited the Temple Mount yesterday. The most disturbing evidence is the pipes, because this means more diggings!.

June 29, 2000
     Israeli Government forbids taking Aerial photos from above the Temple Mount. Israel television reporter Benny Liss indicated today that a level of coordination exists between the Waqf and Israeli law enforcement authorities regarding the illegal construction. Speaking with Arutz-7, Liss said that three days ago, he hired a helicopter to fly over the Mount in an effort to capture an aerial view of what was actually taking place there. Liss: "Shortly before the flight, I got a call from the helicopter company saying that the Waqf had learned of the flight, called the police; the police in turn called the air traffic tower in Atarot, which then informed the pilot that he had no permission to fly over the Mount. The Waqf has an interest in ensuring that photos of the area do not reach the public."

July 2, 2000
     Huge section of concrete pipe - "As I ascended the Temple Mount this morning at 9:30 AM, I immediately noticed a tractor working along the eastern side of the Mount. In addition to all of the activity, construction, and building materials that I have already described, this morning I also saw a huge section of concrete pipe, the type that is used in major municipal waterworks projects and buried very deep. I also saw that work was being done with heavy-duty steel plumbing pipes. I could clearly see portions of pipe that had been freshly laid in the area. I also saw a section of plastic casing which is used to contain electrical wiring." , A report from Chaim Richman who is now constantly visiting the Temple Mount.

July 2, 2000
     PM Ehud Barak has reacted to an urgent application of the CPDATM regarding the expected digging for sewage concrete pipe installation. We still don't know what desicions he will take.

July 2, 2000
     The few archaeological data we could achieve from the dumps in the Kidron, is now also in a hazard. Eilat Mazar, a few archaeology students and me went to visit the dumps in Kidron.  In recent months, the Works Department of the Municipality of Jerusalem has been carrying out excavations for a large drainage sewer in the Kidron Creek area. This excavation passes by the foot of the slope of rubble dumped by the Moslem Waqf (religious administrative authority) about eight months ago. Masonry stone blocks from various structures demolished by the Muslim Waqf in the course of the Waqf's excavations on the Temple Mount lay at the foot of the Kidron dumps. Due to irresponsibility on the part of the Municipality of Jerusalem [perhaps purposely by Arab  municiple workers], caused the earth from these Municipal sewage works was dumped over the lower part of the slopes of rubble from the Temple Mount dumped by the Waqf. Consequently, archaeologically significant masonry from the Temple Mount located in the Waqf's dumps are  today covered with additional (Municipal) dumped material. 

July 2, 2000
     Additional public figures and archaeologists joined the CPDATM. The current members of the CPDATM are" Archaeologists: Prof. Avraham Biran, Prof. Amihai Mazar, Prof. Ehud Nezer, Dr. Eilat Mazar, Dr. Gabriel Barkai, Dr. Zeev Meshel. Other members: Teddy Kolek, Chaim Guri, A.B. Yehoshua, Yzhar Smilansky, Prof. Avi Revitzky, (Gen.) Meir Dagan, Zvi Zamir, Ytzchak Chopi, Yoram Yair, Shlomo Lahat, Attr. Shmuel Berkovitz, Michael Gal, Israel Caspi, Dr. Orit Zur.

July 7, 2000
     CPDATM got 2 new reports about construction south of the Dome of the Rock's platform stairs. One report from Monday says it was just a little renovation in one of the stairs. The second, which is updated to yesterday, says piles of earth are seen in that location. More details to come.

July 7, 2000
     We are calling senior archaeologists from other countries to join the CPDATM, and sign our petition. Forgeign scholars support could really help our struglle to save the Temple Mount's antiquities.

July 7, 2000
     In the last week heavy renovation work is done in Al-Aqza mosque. Earlier this week heaps of slab stones were seen near the mosque. These slabs were moved and concentrated south from the Golden Gate. The current Al-Aqza mosque was build in the 11-12 century CE, on top of the earlier mosque that was ruined in the 1033 earthquake. This makes us date the slabs to the 11-12 century CE.

July 7, 2000
     "On last December dig - A monumental gate that stood in the site was breached" - says IAA director, Amir Drori, on an interview to the weekly newspaper Makor Rishon. This is the first time Drori has given any details about what does the IAA know about the archaeological destruction from the Waqf's dig north of the 'Solomon's Stables'. Evidence to this gate is a carved fragment of an architrave or a doorjamb found in the Temple Mount debris in the Kidron valley by the IAA.

July 9, 2000
     A New aerial pictures from Chai Vekayam movement reveals further construction plans. More trees where uprooted in a further west area. 

July 16, 2000
     CPDATM visited the Rockefeller museum (IAA main offices) and found the architectural marble stone in the backyard.

July 16, 2000
     CPDATM had a conversation with policemen from the police spot on the road entrance to the Temple Mount near the Lion's gate. They said that they usually don't permit trucks to enter the old city, but trucks that go to the Temple Mount have a special permit from the police high officers. The last truck that they remember entering the Temple Mount as a week and a half ago. They also said that two weeks ago they were directed to prevent trucks and heavy machinery from entering the Temple Mount. This situation managed to exist for about 2 days, but due to heavy pressure from the Waqf's authorities they had to restore the previous permit of allowing heavy machinery to enter the Mount.

August 23, 2000
     The CPDATM members have met last week with Minister of Israeli Society and the World Jewish Community, Rabbi Michael Melchior. They requested his help in setting up a meeting with the Prime Minister.Melchior spokesmen told the CPDATM today that the PM, the Minister of Internal Security and Minister of Justice are denying the CPDATM claims regarding the Waqf's recent activity on the Mount. They said that nothing has occurred on the Temple Mounted in the last months.

August 23, 2000
     The following public figures and archaeologists have recently joined the CPDATM: (Gen.) Dan Shomron - former IDF Chief of Staff, Prof. Uriel Reichman, Prof. Amos Kloner - Bar-Ilan University Archaeologist and member of the Israeli Archaeology council, Prof. Moshe Kocavi - Hebrew University Archaeologist and member of the Israeli Archaeology council, Prof. Eliezer Oren - Ben-Gurion University Archaeologist.

August 23, 2000
     A special meeting took place at State Attorney General, Elyakim Rubinstein, office regarding the Waqf request to pave an area of 2 dunams. The fact that the Waqf is now applying requests to the Israeli authority in advance is an achievement of the CPDATM. In this meeting, ways of how to approve these requests were discussed.

August 29, 2000
     The CPDATM needs help in Saving the Temple Mount antiquities. The project of sifting the debris from the Temple Mount is advancing. The Archaeologist who will lead this project is Dr. Gabi Barkai from Bar-Ilan university. Unfortunately, they still lack the financial resources for this. They need to raise a sum of about $40,000, but, till now, we have managed to raise only a small part of it from a few donors. This is why we are now addressing the public, in a plea for contributions of any amount. They promise to publish a list of all the donors (unless they wish otherwise) and send a full report of the finds to each one of them.

September 3, 2000
     Biblical Archaeology Review has published some new pictures, covering the destruction on the Temple Mount. In one of these picture stratified layer can be easily seen, which is another proof that this dig did not remove just a late earth fill.

September 21, 2000
     For the last 8 days, Israel is preventing the entrance of construction materials to the Temple Mount. This is a rare decision for the Government of Israel’s policy. Until now, any attempt to do so did not last more than 2 days. The background for this decision is the Waqf’s plan to pave another large area in additional to the 1600 square meters that was already paved. The Waqf is complaining that Israel is putting a siege on the Mount, and threats that this may bring the whole area to a conflict.

September 22, 2000
    Arafat instructed the 'Tanzim' to escalate the riots.  Palestinian Security Chiefs have been directly involved in inciting the violence and in ordering Palestinian Police to open fire on Israeli soldiers, Police and civilians.

September 23, 2000
    Stone throwing and escalating to the use of firearms and explosives for the first time against Israeli soldiers and civilians travelling int he Netzarim area in Gaza.

September 27, 2000
    Palestinians threaten to resort to large scale violence in order to take control of the Western Wall area below the Temple Mount.  Large Israeli Police force is deployed below the Temple Mount.

September 27, 2000
     Jibril Rajoub, head of PA Preventive Security led the Israel Government to belive (Minister of Internal Security and Acting Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami) that there would be no reaction to Likud MK Arik Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount as long as Sharon did not attempt to enter the mosque itself. Rajoub made the promise in a transatlantic conversation with Ben Ami while Ben Ami was in the US.

September 28, 2000
     MK Sharon visits the Temple Mount. The Thursday morning visit to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, or Haram As-Sharif as it is called by the Arab population.  Sharon stated: 'The Temple Mount is in our hands and will remain in our hands. It is the holiest site in Judaism and it is the right of every Jew to visit the Temple Mount.'.  His visit was marred when Arabs began hurling stones and other objects at the delegation as it was leaving as well as at security forces.  Several Palestinians were killed during the riots that followed the next day.  [But there is evidence to suggest that it was not the Israeli's who fired the bullets].

Source:  Temple Mount Archeological Destruction

Shlomo Ben Ami and Barak should fear investigation of Temple Mount events,

by Akiva Eldar.

Ha''aretz 14 November 2000

Shlomo Ben-Ami's best friends do not understand what has been happening to this moderate, wise man lately. All have noticed that since the early days of the Intifada, he has become more Minister of Police than Minister of Foreign Affairs, more Ehud Barak and less Shimon Peres. The quality of the discussions he has been holding in the Foreign Ministry to formulate a diplomatic and information strategy opposite the Palestinians is reminiscent of the days of Abba Eban. The anti-Arafat atmosphere there, however, is more reminiscent of the latter days of David Levy. Some of Ben-Ami's people blame his strategic advisor, Haim Assa, who has his boss's right ear. Others, who take a more serious view, suggest that the source of the turnabout in his personality can be found in Ben-Ami himself.

They say that Arafat has stepped on the history professor's most sensitive nerve - his ego. Ben-Ami was the driving force behind Camp David 2000. He told everyone that he had in fact almost closed the entire deal with Abu Ala on the Stockholm track. Even after his return from Washington, a few days after Ariel Sharon went up to the Temple Mount, Ben-Ami said that if he were given just two weeks, he would tie up all the remaining loose ends.

Ben-Ami considers Arafat a twofold traitor. He hurt Ben-Ami once when he took the glory of peace away from the foreign minister, causing Israeli diplomats to be dispatched home from the capitals of the Gulf and the Maghreb instead. And then Arafat sent Jabril Rajoub to soothe Ben-Ami's feathers and assure him that Ariel Sharon's visit to Haram al-Sharif would pass without incident.

When the state commission of inquiry completes its investigation into the Temple Mount events, it will be clear why Ben-Ami so firmly objected to the establishment of such a commission. It might want to ask who gave Sharon permission to visit the sensitive site; why Ben-Ami refused to take the call from Feisal Husseini, while he was in the United States; what Husseini told Ami Gluska, Ben-Ami's aide; and who gave the police the order to use live ammunition against the demonstrators. (Nawaf Massalha, Ben-Ami's deputy, says that two bereaved families claim that their sons were shot in the back and are willing to hand over the bodies for autopsy.)

The state commission of inquiry may not stop at the Ministry of Internal Security. Throughout the events, Ben-Ami consulted with Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and not only on the telephone....

1. Independent Media Review and Analysis
2. ibid.
3. ibid. Actually the opposite may be true, see "Who killed Mohammed al-Dura?"]
4. The Middle East Media and Research Institute

See also:
"How PA Violence was planned", Report by Palestinian Media Watch
Palestinian Authority Communications Minister says Al Aksa Intifada was planned since July (for six months)
and others

This page was produced by Joseph E. Katz
Middle Eastern Political and Religious History Analyst 
Brooklyn, New York 
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Portions Copyright © 1984 Joan Peters, Portions Copyright © 2001 Joseph Katz
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