There is an outcry from Palestinian groups about work underway near the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City. The Palestinians are warning Israel that any damage to the site would destroy a ceasefire deal in Gaza. The government denies the mosque is at risk, assurances echoed by the chief archaeologist for Israel’s Antiquities Authority, Gidon Avni.
“All the work that we are conducting here is absolutely outside the limits of the Temple Mount,” he said. “We are standing about 50 metres from the wall. Nothing will be conducted within the area of the wall.”
Officials maintain the work will only focus on the replacement of an outside ramp, but the assurances have not calmed rising tension. Protests have taken place in various centres. In Bethlehem crowds of Palestinians threw stones at Israeli soldiers outside a holy site at the entrance to the city. Soldiers are reported to have responded with tear gas.