PLO slams fresh Israeli bid for digging beneath Al-Aqsa

RAMALLAH (AA) – The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) warned on Sunday against Israeli plans to dig new tunnels beneath East Jerusalem's Al-Burak Wall, known to Jews as the Wailing Wall

"Tenders issued by the so-called Western Wall Heritage Foundation for digging under the western wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque constitute a real danger to the holy site," Ahmed Qurei, the head of the PLO's Jerusalem Department, said Sunday.

Qurei said Israeli contractors had secretly visited the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in recent days to study the site before taking part in bidding prior to the construction, the latter of which is slated for Feb. 20.

"The occupation is seeking to seize areas beneath [East Jerusalem's] Old City as part of its aim to control and Judaize the holy city," Qurei said.

He went on to say that Israel had built dozens of tunnels beneath the Old City.

Israeli authorities do not deny the existence of archeological assets in the vicinity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

It bars, however, Palestinian rights organizations from examining archeological sites in the area.

Israel's antiquities authority usually declines to comment on Palestinian reports in this regard and sometimes questions the credibility of such reports.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.

Israel later occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.

The Palestinian Authority continues to demand the establishment of an independent state in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

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