Ramallah: Land fissures have emerged at the southern area of Al Aqsa Mosque which Palestinians blame on continuous digging by Israeli authorities under Al Haram Al Sharif.
The fissures have caused panic among Palestinian residents of Occupied Jerusalem who live near the holy Muslim site.
“The constant vibrations of the heavy machinery are causing cracks in the areas. At least two land fissures have been reported in Housh Baydoun of the Silwan neighbourhood,” Fakhri Abu Diyab, head of the local committee in defence of occupied Jerusalem, told Gulf News.
Abu Diyab predicted major land cracks around Al Aqsa Mosque in the near future which could destabilise the mosque’s foundations and cause it to collapse.
“The Israelis know exactly what they are doing. They know the digging is dangerous and will lead to land cracks,” he said.
Palestinians have long suspected the digging is intentional.
According to Dr Hanna Eisa, the Secretary General of the Christian-Muslim Commission in Support of Jerusalem and its Holy Sites, there are currently 104 tunnels underneath the holy shrine.
Messianic Third Temple activists and ultra-orthodox Jewish nationalist groups have openly called for destroying Al Haram Al Sharif.
These groups have been encouraging and conducting daily raids on Al Haram Al Sharif, where a status quo agreement allows Jews to visit but not perform religious rituals there.
While the groups have been condemned by prominent rabbis in the past, the movement is gaining popularity in Israeli society.
Last year, Israeli Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau said he would like to see a Third Temple to be built, expressing his belief that the Muslim holy sites located in Al Haram Al Sharif need not be demolished to make room for it.
“There is room for Jews, there’s room for Christians, there’s room for Muslims, there’s room for everybody,” he was quoted as saying.
Israeli officials, ministers and lawmakers with close ties to the government have expressed similar messianic views.
Tzipi Hotovely, the director general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said she dreams of seeing the Israeli flag fly over Al Haram Al Sharif, calling the site the “centre for Israeli sovereignty.”
“We must change the status quo. Al Haram Al Sharif must go back to being a place for Jewish prayer,” she was quoted as saying.
Uri Ariel, Israel’s Agricultural Minister said, “We’ve built many little temples. But we need to build a real temple on Al Haram Al Sharif.”
The Israelis prevent Palestinian geologists from investigating the tunnel digging.
“We need to examine the nature and layers of the sand and rocks in order to take a clear stand on the issue,” Palestinian geologist Dr Taleb Al Harthi told Gulf News.
Al Haram Al Sharif, Islam’s third holiest shrine, was built on top of the ancient remnants of the Temple Mount, a site sacred in Judaism which was destroyed in the 4th century by the Romans, during their rule.
It houses both Al Aqsa Mosque, which was originally commissioned to be built under Omar, the second Caliph in Islam in the 7th century, and the Dome of the Rock which houses the rock from which Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) ascended to heaven, according to Islamic teachings.