Israeli officials deny find is Muslim prayer room

Monday, February 19, 2007 |  by Staff Writer
The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) denied an earlier report that archaeologists discovered a Muslim prayer room in their excavations in the area surrounding the Mugrabi Gate, near the Temple Mount.

IAA officials claimed that in the past they were prevented from digging in the area of the site, but now they hope to find what the room really is. But they denied a report that a Jerusalem district archaeologist released stating he uncovered an alcove covered with a dome, a kind of Muslim prayer niche.

Muslim leaders feared that the IAA was attempting to hide Muslim attachments at the site.

While excavators have been working on the areas surround the ramp leading to the Mugrabi Gate, damaged during a snowstorm in 2004, the past two weeks have caused a political storm with riots over the construction as Muslims claim Israel is plotting to destroy Islamic holy places.

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