Turkish delegation visits Western wall excavations

Thursday, March 22, 2007 |  by Staff Writer
Turkish historians and archaeologists inspected the controversial excavations near the Mugrabi Gate on Wednesday, following riots by Moslems who claimed it was destroying holy sites.

Israel allowed the Turkish visit to the site in an attempt to calm Moslem fears that the work would harm the nearby compound of Al-Aksa Mosque.

The Turkish delegation, accompanied by Turkey's consul to Jerusalem and representatives of the Israel Antiquities Authority, gave no comment on the situation. Consul Ercan Ozer said only that the delegation would present a report to the Turkish government, which would publish the results “later.”

The excavations paved a new way for the construction of the ramp leading to the Temple Mount, which collapsed three years ago during a snowstorm.

Israel denies that any harm will be caused to the site, which it has controlled since 1967.

The agreement to have a delegation from Turkey come and visit the site was made last month when Prime Minister Ehud Olmert visited Turkey.

A mid-March report on the excavation from the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization said Israel should have sought the advice of international organizations before it started the excavations. The reports concluded that the excavations posed no threat to the stability of the site and credited Israel with adhering to “professional standards.”

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