|Marwani Mosque entrance|
This story has been all over Arab and Muslim media the past couple of days, and I can’t find out what the real story is.
Here’s the story from the official Palestinian Wafa news agency:
Israeli police detained four guards of the Muslim holy site, Al-Aqsa Mosque, in Jerusalem after they stopped a Jewish archaeologist from stealing an ancient mosque stone.
Police first detained three guards when they attempted to block the theft of the stone and shoved the director of Al-Aqsa Mosque, Omar Kiswani, when he tried to intervene on behalf of the employees.
A fourth guard was later detained for the same reason.
All four were taken into custody.
Fanatic Jews claim Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is the site of the old Jewish temples.
Muslim fear the Jewish fanatics want to destroy the mosque to build a temple on its ruins.
Al-Aqsa Mosque is under Jordanian custody and its staff, including the guards, are Jordanian government employees.
Turkey’s Anadolu Agency adds:
Israeli forces have detained seven guards of East Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque in the past 24 hours, a Palestinian official said on Tuesday.
“Four other guards were rounded up from their homes at dawn on Tuesday,” Firas al-Dibs, a spokesman for the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, a Jordan-run organization responsible for overseeing the city’s Islamic sites, told Anadolu Agency.
“Three others were detained on Monday after they prevented a Jewish archaeologist from stealing an ancient stone from inside the mosque,” he said.
Al-Dibs said the archaeologist had allegedly attempted twice to steal the stone under the protection of Israeli police, triggering clashes between the guards and Israeli forces.
Middle East Monitor identifies the supposed archaeologist as being from Israel’s Antiquities Authority.
IMEMC tells the story differently, claiming that the Israeli police tried “confiscating some of its ancient stones to send them to an Israeli archeologist.” instead of the archaeologist being there and trying to steal a single stone under Israeli protection.
Needless to say, all of these sources have very big credibility problems in their past reporting.
The inconsistencies in the stories multiply in Arabic. Assabeel and other sites say that the IAI employee tried to “storm” the underground Marwani mosque “to steal ancient stones.” The Marwani mosque was built illegally in the area that is known as Solomon’s Stables and tons of the debris from that huge excavation are what volunteers continue to sift through to find Jewish artifacts from the Temple periods.
My guess is that the Waqf made up the story of the “ancient stone” that was to be “stolen.” Archaeologists prefer that artifacts stay in the exact spot that they were found when they want to do research. Something else happened where the Muslim guards got into a fight with the Israeli police, and it is unclear if any IAI official was there to begin with, but it seems more likely that the only thing the IAI would have wanted to take were photos.
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