by Maayana Miskin
The High Court ruled against the Israel Law Center this week in a petition aimed at stopping the destruction of Jewish artifacts dating back to the Temple era. The court ruled that the destruction cannot be stopped using private prosecution. In addition to rejecting the private case against the Islamic Wakf Authority on the Temple Mount, the High Court rejected the Israel Law Center’s demand that the attorney general be ordered to take action against the Temple Mount destruction.
The Israel Law Center (Shurat HaDin) had filed suit against the Wakf on behalf of 150 Israeli citizens. Charges were filed over the Wakf’s use of bulldozers to carry out unauthorized construction in the area, despite archaeologists’ warnings that the machinery was demolishing ancient Jewish artifacts.
Attorneys from the Israel Law Center accused the Wakf of deliberately destroying Jewish artifacts in order to eradicate evidence of the Jewish claim to the Temple Mount. By neglecting to take action to stop the demolition of ancient historical finds, the Israel government has been “abandoning the millenniums-long Jewish claim over the Temple Mount and allowing Islamic extremists to re-write Jerusalem’s history,” they said.
The attorney general’s office had tried to get the Israel Law Center suit dismissed, arguing that private citizens should not be allowed to prosecute in a case that affects the general public. The Law Center responded by accusing the attorney general of caving in to political pressure.
The Islamic Wakf has been carrying out illegal construction on the Temple Mount for more than a decade. The work has been allowed to continue despite archaeologists’ protests that ancient artifacts are being crushed.
The Wakf has denied that any First Temple-period artifacts are located on the Temple Mount.
The Israel Law Center released a statement saying, “It is absurd that while the Israeli government is mounting an international campaign against UNESCO to protest its labeling Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Machpelah [Tomb of the Patriarchs - ed.] in Hevron as Muslim mosques and denying their Jewish origins, it obstructs Shurat HaDin from acting to safeguard the status of the Jewish people’s holiest site.”
Law Center head Attorney Nitzana Darshan-Leitner said the High Court ruling in the case “gave the Islamic Wakf a free pass to continue its destruction of Israel’s sacred heritage sites.”
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