The final report of State Comptroller concerning illegal activities on the Temple Mount that was written in 2010 states that all the lessons from the draft (written in 2008) were learned, and now oversight of the Temple Mount has greatly improved. Although there has been major improvement in police and IAA supervision at the site, unfortunately, things are not still satisfying. Last year we published a long report about antiquities desecration at the site since 2009, and even today, a few days after the comptroller report was brought to the public and a week after the IAA and police declared in a discussion in the interior committee in the Knesset that all construction work at the site is being reviewed, authorized and supervised by the police and IAA inspectors, we still encounter evidence that shows a different reality.
Yesterday we received reports about more dirt being removed from Solomon’s Stables with a small Bobcat tractor. We went today to check this out and found fresh dirt on top of the debris heaps in the eastern area of the Temple Mount.
Just to remind our readers, the Supreme Court in 2004 ruled that these heaps must not be removed before being examined by archaeologists. This means that they should not even be mixed with other debris before being inspected. Unfortunately, the opposite is happening, and these heaps are being maneuvered, and more debris is poured upon it, making the future task of archaeologist to differentiate the between the various contexts of the finds more difficult.
In addition, more graffiti has been noted in various locations, such as on the eastern wall of the raised platform.
Recently, the ground level near the new generator room north of the raised platform was lowered by one foot. This work exposed an unknown course of stones from an earlier phase of this wall. This course could be dated to the Early Umayyad period or even the Second Temple Period. L. Ritmeyer suggested that the foundation of this course was the original northern wall of the Temple Mount, and there is evidence for this thesis in various spots along this line.
It appears that somewhere on the Mount more construction is currently taking place. This can be deduced from new construction material that has been brought inside the compound.
On the floor of the Dome of the Spirits there are some rare remnants of an opus sectile floor. These remnants are probably in secondary use and include Byzantine and Herodian tiles. In the picture below is a nice rectangular bituminous limestone tile that was recently severely damaged. Older pictures show some cracks, but for some reason the cracks have become much wider. On and around it remains of a blue spray paint can be seen. It appears like someone laid a very heavy object upon this floor and painted it. This work damaged the ancient floor and left stains on it.
In addition, the Israeli police have tightened their security checking of the visitors to the Temple Mount which results in a very long line of visitors that now extends out of Dung Gate towards the City of David. Because it takes so long to pass through security before entering the site and because the visiting time is so limited, many tourists are being denied entry to the Temple Mount.