Palestinians Used Ramadan as Cover for Destroying Jewish Artifacts on the Temple Mount

During Ramadan—which concluded last week—the Temple Mount is closed to non-Muslims and there is only a limited police presence there. Taking advantage of this situation, the Jordanian-run religious authority responsible for the Islamic holy places on the Mount, known as the waqf, cleared away mounds of dirt and rubble that contain valuable archaeological artifacts. These mounds had resulted from earlier, deliberate attempts by the waqf to destroy archaeological sites, eventually brought to an end by an order from Israel’s supreme court. The Temple Mount Sifting Project, which has been working for years to recover artifacts from these areas, explains the situation:

[T]he Muslim waqf [has] move[d] the remaining mounds of soil that were originally excavated in 1999 and the early 2000s, along with the material we have been sifting. This material contains a huge number of artifacts from all periods of the history of the Temple Mount, including the First and Second Temple periods. . . . Yet, . . . illegally, the waqf, with dozens of volunteers and workers, carried out excavation work [and] earth and stone clearance on the Temple Mount. . . .

Stones were collected [from the mounds] and used to build terraces and little walls to outline new walkways. . . . [T]here are four places where the waqf not only “cleaned” the mounds on the surface, but yet again dug into their interiors. This was clearly [done to] show who is in control, and a message from the waqf to the world that they don’t need permission from Israel to do anything on the Temple Mount, and that no one can stop them. The video from last week also showed ancient slabs being sorted and removed from the mounds. Who knows what else was discovered, and what else we won’t be able to study from this unsupervised work. . . .

[T]hese archaeologically rich mounds of earth have been irreconcilably damaged. This is a clear violation of the law, a violation of basic morality and respect, and an absolute destruction of the heritage of Jews as well as Christians and Muslims. This constitutes a decade’s worth of regression in the level of enforcement of [Israeli] antiquities law.

Read more at Temple Mount Sifting Project

More about: Archaeology, Israel & Zionism, Ramadan, Temple Mount

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy