May 29, 2007

High Court Bans New Muslim Burial Site Next to Temple Mount

The High Court of Justice has upheld a decision by Public Security Minister Avi Dichter to ban Muslim burials on the grounds immediately southeast of the Temple Mount. The area, which borders the eastern wall of the Temple Mount, is believed to contain important archaeological artifacts from the First Temple era and is designated as part of a national park. It is an extremely sensitive area in that the Temple Mount is Judaism's holiest site.

Muslim burial on the site, which was never a cemetery in the past, could end any possibility of excavating the area in the future, as has been done at the foot of the southern wall and the bottom part of the Western Wall” explained archaeologist Gabriel Barkai in the petition to block the burials. An Islamic burial ground does exist outside the walls of the Temple Mount compound, at its southeast foot, but apparently Muslims had begun to extend their cemetery into the area defined as a national park.