Biblical Archaeology Review 20:4, July/August 1994

Israeli Court Finds Muslim Council Destroyed Ancient Remains on Temple Mount

By Stephen J. Adler

In a hotly contested case, Israel’s Supreme Court has held that the Waqf, the Muslim religious trust, damaged and destroyed important archaeological remains on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.a The court nevertheless declined to issue any order against the Waqf or the government authorities, apparently because of the extreme religious and political sensitivity of the Temple Mount and the need to preserve public order.

The lawsuit was filed in Israel’s Supreme Court (which has original jurisdiction of such cases) in 1986, but the decision was not handed down until November 1993, reflecting the unusual difficulty the court had in arriving at its decision and the rationale for it.

The suit was brought by a tiny fringe organization, “The Temple Mount Faithful,” against the state attorney, the police commissioner, the mayor of Jerusalem, the director of the Antiquities Authority and the Waqf. The court was requested (1) to compel the state attorney and the Jerusalem municipality to file a criminal charge against the Waqf for building without a license and destroying archaeological remains and (2) to compel the director of the Antiquities Authority to require the removal of the illegal structures and to restore the archaeological remains to their previous condition.

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