Petitions by the committee to the High Court of Justice
In March 2001, a short time after the formation of the Committee for the Prevention of Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount, the committee petitioned the High Court of Justice with a request to instruct the law enforcement authorities to uphold the law on the Temple Mount, prevent damage to antiquities, make all work on the Temple Mount conditional on the receipt of all the proper permits, immediately halt all works and prevent the entry of vehicles and removal of antiquities from the Temple Mount.
In its petition, the committee presented the full scope of the Waqf works being carried out on the Temple Mount based on the information it had managed to collect from various sources. It was the committee that made public numerous activities carried out on the Temple Mount that were previously unknown to the public, thanks to the information collection system used by the committee since Israelis have been barred from entering the Temple Mount.
Attached to the petition were affidavits by security experts who explained that the Israel Police have it in their power to prevent the construction and demolition works, close the Temple Mount to vehicle traffic and stop the entry of construction materials and removal of antiquities from the Temple Mount.
Also attached to the petition were expert opinions from eminent archeologists (Prof. Ehud Netzer, Prof. Amos Kloner, Dr. Gabriel Barkai and Dr. Eilat Mazar), who underscored the importance of the Temple Mount to archeology and explained the enormity of the damage being caused to the ancient site.
Ultimately, at the recommendation of the court justices, the committee decided to withdraw its petition because of the change of government occurring at that time, and based on the understanding that the new government should be given some time to correct steps taken by the previous government.
In September 2004, the committee submitted yet another petition when it learned that the Antiquities Authority had allowed the Waqf to remove piles of earth filled with antiquities from the Temple Mount. Needless to say, the earth should be exactingly sifted through in order to prevent the loss of any further antiquities. The permission granted by the Antiquities Authority was completely opposed to the decision of the prime minister in June 2001 to forbid the removal of earth and archeological findings from the Temple Mount.
Attached to the petition were the expert opinions of professors of archeology who emphasized the enormous archeological value of the earth of the Temple Mount.
In wake of the petition, the state announced that it had decided to prohibit further removal of the earth. The parties agreed that if there was any intent to remove the earth, the Antiquities Authority would inform the Committee for the Prevention of Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount thirty days in advance.
In August 2005, the committee petitioned the High Court of Justice regarding illegal burials being carried out inside the national park located at the foot of the walls of Jerusalem. The relevant area involves 2,000 square meters and is located outside the boundaries of the Muslim cemetery located along the eastern wall of the Temple Mount. The petition submitted by the committee joined yet another petition on the same matter submitted by Aryeh King about a year earlier.
The committee showed that although the area belonged to the city of Jerusalem, individuals were selling burial plots to all comers. The area already contained 15 burial plots that were in use, and all the other plots held empty burial cavities or displayed signs indicating the ownership of the plot.
In its petition, the committee asked the court to immediately forbid burial in the area of the national park, fence off the existing graves and destroy the empty burial structures, remove the signs indicating private ownership and to bring to trial anyone selling or digging burial plots, and anyone burying the deceased in them.
The deliberations of the Supreme Court on the petition have not yet ended and no ruling has been handed down yet.