JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — A right-wing Jewish organization called the Western Wall Heritage Foundation has circulated an invitation for bids to conduct excavations in tunnels under the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, a top Palestinian official said Sunday.
Ahmad Qurei, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said the work would start on Feb. 20.
In a statement, Qurei, who chairs a PLO department for Jerusalem affairs, described the move as dangerous. He said that Israeli engineers and contractors had toured the al-Aqsa mosque compound secretly a few days ago to explore the location before they submit their bids.
The Israeli occupation government, added the statement, through these “aggressive excavations,” plans to create new paths and chambers under the Western Wall of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in order to enhance its grab on the Old City of Jerusalem and eventually transform it into a Jewish city both physically and demographically.
Israel has already excavated dozens of tunnels under the Old City as part of its efforts to displace the indigenous Palestinian residents and replace them with Jewish settlers, according to Qurei.
One of the tunnels, he said, runs from Ein Silwan to the western wall of the al-Aqsa mosque. Another major tunnel runs from the wall to the Omari school in the Muslim quarter. A third tunnel runs from the Muslim Quarter to the Western Wall of the al-Aqsa mosque.
In addition, added Qurei, there are ongoing excavations in attempts to connect between illegal settlement outposts in the Old City.