Members of the Committee to Prevent the Destruction of Temple Mount Antiquities petitioned the High Court of Justice on Sunday, seeking to stop an excavation by the Waqf, or Muslim religious trust, on the Temple Mount. Waqf officials say the digging of the trench, 500 meters long and 1.5 meters deep, is necessary to replace 40-year-old electric cables. But the petitioners say the work "is causing irreversible damage to antiquities and archaeological artifacts of the greatest importance, and is being carried out illegally, without the requisite authorizations."
The petition maintains that Temple courtyards were located where the dig is taking place, and that some 400 tons of dirt removed in the process contain priceless archaeological artifacts from various periods. The petition stated: "Massive digging to a depth of a meter and a half entails damage to ground layers, some of which may have been in place since the First Temple stood there 3,000 years ago."
The petition was signed by author A. B. Yehoshua; former Tel Aviv mayor Shlomo Lahat; Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; prominent archaeologists Ephraim Stern, Amihay Mazar, Ehud Netzer, Israel Finkelstein, Moshe Kochavi, Gabriel Barkai and Eilat Mazar; retired Israel Defense Forces generals Zvi Zamir, Yitzhak Hofi and Giora Eiland; attorney Shmuel Berkovitz; and the Jerusalem Post, which also claimed that the Mount is closed to media coverage.