The story of the debris heaps removal from the Temple Mount was widely covered by the Israeli media last week. As a result of following one of the trucks, we discovered the material was being deposited at an illegal dumping site (Fig 1). Evidently, the truck driver realized he was followed, and the earthworks stopped the next day. On Wednesday the work resumed, but following a demonstration by groups of Temple Mount activists at Lion’s Gate, the gate through which the trucks were attempting to enter the Temple Mount, the work ceased again and has not resumed. It seems that our protest succeeded in stopping the removal of the heaps from the Temple Mount for now. We suspect it may be resumed after the elections on the end of January 2013.
It should be emphasized that we do not object at all to this debris being removed from the Temple Mount, as long as it is done with awareness of its archaeological value. We fully support its removal because the whole eastern area today resembles an illegal dumping site. The question is how to remove this material from the Temple Mount while preserving the ancient artifacts buried within it. We believe this work should be done manually, separating the various debris heaps based on their location of origin, and then transferring the material off-site for wet sifting (Fig 2). We would be happy to help sift this soil at the Sifting Project.