Controversial work at the Holy Land’s most explosive religious site is continuing – despite a call by Israeli Defence Minister, Amir Peretz for an immediate halt. Peretz fears the excavations being carried out at the site will provoke violent demonstrations and a deterioration in the security situation.
Israel is building a new ramp at the site revered by Jews as Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary or al-Aqsa compound. Muslims fear the work’s damaging two rooms that are part of Islam’s heritage, and Muslim leaders have called for mass protests to stop the work.
Israel is keeping demonstrators at bay behind barriers, but there is growing concern that the situation could get out of control. It was a visit to the site by then opposition leader Ariel Sharon in 2000 that sparked the second intifada.