Temple Mount Antiquities Rescue Committee was established in early 2000 at the initiative of attorney Israel Caspi after the vast extent of the destruction of the antiquities and gross violations of the law by the Islamic Waqf and the Islamic Movement carried out on the Temple Mount, as well as of the impotence of the authorities, became public.
Especially shocking was the huge crater (2,000 square meters, 12 meters deep) dug with heavy machinery to create the main entrance of a new mosque illegally constructed in the area of the Temple Mount known as Solomon’s Stables. Some 12,000 tons of earth filled with precious antiquities were removed from the crater, loaded on trucks and deposited in the city dump.
Members of the committee
The committee members include archeologists, writers, legal and security experts, all of whom joined the committee when it was founded. Among the committee members are the chairman of the Archaeological Council, Prof. Ephraim Stern; Chairman of the Israel Exploration Society Prof. Avraham Biran; author A.B. Yehoshua; retired Presidents of the Supreme Court of Israel Moshe Landau and Meir Shamgar; retired State Comptroller Justice Miriam Ben Porat; and the Executive Chairman of the Council of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (CPMAJ) Malcolm Hoenlein. The committee is completely apolitical and its members come from all corners of the political map. The common denominator shared by all is an understanding of the Temple Mount’s immense cultural importance.
Aims of the committee
The goal of the committee is to do whatever it can to prevent any damage to the historical and archeological status of the Temple Mount area, which would cause grave damage to world culture and especially Jewish heritage. Because the Waqf and Islamic movement are destroying Temple Mount antiquities and changing the historic character of the ancient site through gross violations of the Antiquities Law (1978) and the Planning and Construction Law (1965), the committee is demanding that these laws be enforced just as they are for all other antiquities sites in Israel.
The committee has established a system to gather information on the construction and demolition activities being carried out on the Temple Mount. It then transfers this information to the relevant authorities, especially the government, the Antiquities Authority, the Israel Police and the Jerusalem Municipality in order to put an immediate end to the devastation being perpetrated on the Temple Mount. In addition, the committee holds frequent meetings with the representatives of these authorities to explain the severity of the situation. The committee makes the information at its disposal public through the media to make the public aware of the seriousness of the damage. The legal system offers yet a further means to prevent the continued destruction of the antiquities. The committee has petitioned the High Court of Justice to compel the authorities to enforce the law on the Temple Mount.