The Israeli High Court of Justice accepted a petition submitted by Emek Shaveh, an NGO which fights to prevent the right-wing politicization of archaeology in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The petition came to challenge the accepted fact that the Kosel tunnels dug under the Old City’s Muslim quarter since 1969 are a sacred site exclusively for the Jewish people.
Emek Shaveh alleged that this is untrue. One of the tunnels’ openings is located on the Via Dolorosa, sacred to Christians, and the tunnels were excavated beneath Islamic, Christian and Jewish religious structures, the group argued. It alleged that the Israel Antiquities Authority has been excavating hundreds of square meters underground, thereby endlessly expanding the area defined as the Kosel, without first assembling a ministerial committee and receiving its approval as required by law.
“The decision to sanctify the underground city for the Jewish religion only means sanctifying structures from different periods for the Jews, from the Second Temple period, through Roman pagan structures, Byzantine and Crusader, Mamluk and Ottoman, all this beneath the homes of residents of the Muslim Quarter,” the group objected.