Israel Resource Review 3rd October, 2002


Will the Temple Mount Collapse During Ramadan?
Ami Ben David
Correspondent, Maariv

Yesterday the prime minister was asked to decide, in a secret meeting, in the matter of the southern part of the Temple Mount wall, due to fear that the Temple Mount will collapse when hundreds of thousands worshippers gather for Ramadan prayers.

The meeting took place yesterday morning in Sharon's bureau, even before he left for Russia, with the participation of Internal Security Minister Uzi Landau, Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert, Jerusalem District Commander Mickey Levy, a GSS Jerusalem district representative, and the director general of the Antiquities Authority, Shuka Dorfman.

The participants dealt with the question of the bulge in the southern wall, which has reached a meter beyond the wall. According to experts' assessments, there is a danger of the wall collapsing if it is not taken care of immediately. If the wall collapses, the entire Temple Mount could collapse.

The urgency of the meeting was due to the fact that the month of Ramadan, which will take place in another month, will bring hundreds of thousands of worshippers to the mount. During Friday prayers on Ramadan, when worshippers from the territories are allowed in, about 400,000 worshippers come to the mount. When there is a closure on the territories, the number of worshippers reaches 200,000.

Interior Ministry and police officials are aware of the awful scenario of a collapse of the mount, with hundreds of thousands of worshippers. A senior security establishment official called it, the "Third World War."

The point of departure for yesterday's discussion was that Israel will have to pay the price, regardless of whatever decision is taken.

"If a decision is made that Israel renovate the wall, without the Wakf's consent," said an Israeli official, "this will lead to bloody riots in Israel and the territories. And if the Temple Mount area collapses with all the worshippers, the results will be ten times worse. We will be faulted in either case."

The discussion also explored the idea of limiting the number of worshippers during the month of Ramadan, while declaring the Temple Mount a dangerous site, and the ramifications of such a declaration. Another danger threatening the Temple Mount, besides the number of worshippers, could occur this coming winter, with the accumulation of rain and snow causing the wall to fall.

An opinion by the Antiquities Authority confirms the fear that the southern wall is in danger of collapse. The government has not allowed the Antiquities Authority to enter the internal part of the southern wall to complete a survey meant to assess the extent of the danger.

In an interview to Ma'ariv, Ofer Cohen, preservation engineer of the Antiquities Authority, confirmed the fear: "We are warning that the wall in this area could collapse very soon. The collapse is visible to the eye, and is backed by expert opinion."

The swelling of the southern wall occurred as a result of the expansion of Solomon's Stables, the space under el- Aksa, and turning the space into a covered mosque with room for 10,000 worshippers. The Committee to Prevent the Destruction of Antiquities, which is monitoring the Wakf's construction activity, appealed to the prime minister with a request to give instructions to renovate the wall before a disaster occurs.

"The swelling in the wall has reached serious proportions of between 50 and 100 centimeters, and continues to enlarge in a manner obvious to the eye, to the point of collapse of the southern wall," said the last memorandum published by the committee. "Both on the Israeli side and in the Wakf there is agreement that the Wall should be dismantled and rebuilt, but the disagreement regarding the question of who should be responsible for the renovation is the cause in the delay in carrying out the operation."

This article ran in Maariv on September 29, 2002

Printer friendly version of this article

Return to Contents

WAKF: Israel Will Be Responsible for the Collapse of the Temple Mount
News Item, HaTzofeh

The Director of the Moslem Wakf administration on the Temple Mount, Adnan el-Husseini, warned on Monday of the danger of the collapse of the Temple Mount. This, he said, is after Israel stopped the renovations of the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount.

In an interview with the Voice of Palestine, el-Husseini claimed that Israel alone would bear responsibility for the loss of life if the wall should collapse. He said that Israel was interfering with the renovation work done by the Moslem Wakf in order to prevent the collapse of the wall.

Husseini claims that the Wakf managed to renovate about 20% of the wall, but because of steps taken by Israel, the Wakf stopped its work and the work done there.

This news item ran in HaTzofeh on October 1, 2002

Printer friendly version of this article

Return to Contents

Sderot: A City in the Negev Lives with the Reality of PLO Rocket Attacks
Reuven Kaplan
Correspondent, Maariv

"Every day between five and nine in the evening we go into "incoming mode," said Shlomi Ben-Zaken, a resident of the M-3 neighborhood in Sderot in which most of the Kassam rockets that have been fired on the town in the last few months have fallen.

"My 17-year-old son suffers from terrible anxiety from the rockets," Ben-Zaken said. "After he hears the fall of the first rocket, instead of entering the mamad [internal bomb shelter] he runs straight to his grandmother's, who lives in another neighborhood." In the wake of the deteriorating security situation in the town and in the aftermath of Hamas's threats to fire rockets in response to the attempted assassination of Mohammed Deif, tension in the town is rising. "After the operation against Mohammed Deif we will certainly get Kassams on Saturday night," said Meir Buhbut, one of the residents.

Last week fears rose throughout the entire town after one of the rockets fell in the backyard of a private home that is just 100 meters away from the town center. On Wednesday night another rocket was fired, this time it hit the Nissan bandage factory which is in the town's industrial zone. Four people sustained light injuries.

Sasson Sara, who owns a grocery store in the commercial center, said: "It is inconceivable that they turn Sderot into Kiryat Shmona. Here the situation can be far worse because in Kiryat Shmona at least they have bomb shelters. Here, you can't even go to the bomb shelters because they are full of snakes."

This article ran in Maariv on September 30, 2002

Printer friendly version of this article

Return to Contents

Poverty in Israel Reflected on an IDF base
Givati Soldier: "I Cannot Fight When My Parents Are Hungry"
Eitan Rabin
Correspondent, Maariv

Severe economic distress is also being felt in the IDF and threatening its social fabric, especially in the combat units. An investigation carried out by Ma'ariv among the infantry brigades shows that hundreds of soldiers suffer from severe difficulties, often causing them to drop out of combat service.

Examples are not hard to find. For instance, an extremely high-ranking commanding officer in the Paratroopers' Brigade, who is in charge of thousand of soldiers, consciously breaks the law and every few weeks takes a large supply of food from IDF warehouses, loads it onto his car and distributes it at the homes of those of his soldiers who need assistance. "I know I am breaking the law," he says, "but I have a good explanation-the soldiers' distress."

Another example is revealed in the letter written by the commander of the paratroopers' training base, Lt. Col. Aharon Haliwa, which was sent several weeks ago to the Soldier's Welfare Association and which reached Ma'ariv. In it, Lt. Col. Haliwa wrote: "Basic training is currently being held at the base for soldiers in combat support positions. In light of the increasing economic distress, a third of the soldiers in one of the companies cannot do their basic training for lack of sneakers. This is a company composed mainly of soldiers from disadvantaged backgrounds." In this case, response was swift, and the soldiers in need received the sneakers from the Soldier's Welfare Association.

In another case, a soldier from the Paratroopers' Brigade complained of severe difficulties. His commanding officers came to his home and heard from his family that there was no food in the house, no money and nothing to live on. "We opened the refrigerator and were stunned. There was one can of corn inside. We asked the family, 'What did you eat today?' and they answered, 'The can of corn.'"

Another combat soldier married, and his wife is pregnant. He told his commanding officers that he has no food and no possibility of buying a bed, and asked to leave. "It was a shock to see this combat soldier weeping," said one of the commanders.

A senior source at the basic training camp said: "These are only a few of the dozens of cases of the severe economic distress that increases daily. The tough part is that soldiers are asking to leave their positions as combat soldiers in order to work close to home and help their families."

Moreover, many parents are reported as having asked their children to leave combat service so they can work and bring money home. "Mothers call and ask us to let their sons go home. We cannot refuse these requests."

Similar cases could also be found in Givati, Golani and the Nahal Brigade: soldiers who weep over their economic situation or request basic assistance such as food, clothing or a bed to sleep in. "I cannot fight when my parents don't even have bread," said a Givati soldier.

Senior IDF commanders said: "This phenomenon of economic distress of soldiers and their parents will blow up in the IDF's face. It is a time bomb and will only get worse and as time goes by. The soldiers will stop fighting and care for their families, and this is extremely grave."

This article ran in Maariv on October 2, 2002

Printer friendly version of this article

Return to Contents

Hamas Training Bomb Makers on the Internet?
Hagai Huberman
Correspondent, HaTzofeh

Now that the front ranks of Hamas explosives experts have been "shaved" by the IDF, Hamas is working hard to train a new cadre of "engineers" who will be responsible for establishing the infrastructure for producing bombs for terror attacks.

To that end, classes for those interested are being given on the Internet, whose purpose is to teach a new generation of suicide bombers how to make bomb belts.

The "military academy" was set up on the internet and is named after Keis Adwan, a Hamas terrorist in northern Samaria who was killed a few months ago in a clash with IDF forces. Hamas activists learn the task of making bomb belts on the site.

The first lesson is "the bomb belt - sewing the pockets." The different parts of the lesson include:

  1. the pouch with a number of pockets;
  2. wires to bring an electric current from both sides of the pouch that go through the folds;
  3. two points to close the electric circuit.

"One of them is a safety point which is meant to keep the suicide bomber alive and to stop the belt from exploding prematurely before reaching the target. The second point is used to close the electric circuit and pressing on it causes the bomb belt to explode," the site explains.

It goes into detail: "Three experts are needed to assemble the bomb belt: the tailor who cuts it according to the wearer's size and who sews the folds through which the electric wires are passed and who prepares the other components necessary in the bomb belt's initial design. The electrician is the only person who relays the size of the bomb belt's parts to the tailor. He connects the wires in two points, the safety point and the detonation point.

"Any mistake on his part will necessarily cause a disaster and will have very serious implications which do not need to be mentioned, since it is obvious what will happen if a bomb belt explodes before reaching the target or if it doesn't explode at the target. There are numerous examples of this, particularly in recent acts.

"The explosives expert is at great risk in his work and it is therefore essential that he be an expert of a senior level in explosives, their components, their types and the force of the electric current needed to detonate the bomb. It is he who decides the number of pockets and their size, according to the size of the charges inserted into the pockets."

The site concludes: "I end this first lesson, which demonstrates the first concepts of bomb belts, in the hope that the second lesson will be held next Saturday, because the material that was relayed by means of correspondence between me and those interested in further details about various aspects of the first lesson must be studied. I expect your letters and questions and after all issues are cleared up, I will set a date for the next lesson. I will not reply to questions relating to any lesson after the time allocated for questions passes. I will kick out of the academy anybody who asks me questions about a lesson that is over. At the end of each stage, a test will held by correspondence. I attribute importance to the lessons because it is my wish to train a large cadre of bomb belt engineers. Allah, may the military academy succeed."

This piece ran in HaTzofeh on October 3, 2002

Printer friendly version of this article

Return to Contents

Go to the Israel Resource Review homepage

The Israel Resource Review is brought to you by the Israel Resource, a media firm based at the Bet Agron Press Center in Jerusalem, and the Gaza Media Center under the juristdiction of the Palestine Authority.
You can contact us on