The Israeli digs in the Temple Mount reflect disregard for Jerusalem's cosmopolitan character, crudely violate international historical legacy laws and represent a pre-planned effort to destroy the Muslim nature of the holy site and the Old City, a report compiled by a Turkish mission sent to supervise the excavations claimed.
The Turkish team, which visited Israel in March, also blamed Israel
for deliberately attempting to harm sites considered holy by millions of Muslims, and for conducting "unnecessary" digs near the Mugrabi Gate.
Large parts of the report were published by Turkish daily al-Zaman this weekend. According to the newspaper, the commission had already submitted its conclusions in July, but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan decided to postpone the report's publication due to diplomatic concerns.
Digs at the site (Photo: AP)
"The digs that are being carried out greatly go beyond scientific needs and must be halted immediately," the report stated.
The team members, including Turkish Consul general in Jerusalem Ercan Ozer, an architect, an archeologist, a geologist and a history professor further warned that "Israel is trying to change Old Jerusalem's character and to 'Judaize' the history of the Temple Mount."
The report's authors also slammed Israel's alleged refusal to cooperate with the Muslim Waqf. They stressed that the report has been compiled with the assistance of Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli experts.
Responding to the Turkish paper's report, The Israeli Foreign Ministry said: "Israel is cooperating fully with UNESCO, which had sent a professional team to the site of the dig and published a report refuting all the allegations against Israel.
"UNESCO has established a process that involves international institutions in the Israeli operations near the Mugrabi Gate, including Jordan and the Waqf. The archeological findings uncovered in the area are known to all, and work to disprove the claims against Israel."