"19 Elul 5761 22:20Thursday September 6, 2001
(08:35) Iran claims Israel destroying Al-Aksa Mosque
Israel is constructing two tunnels in a bid to cause Jerusalem's Al-Aksa Mosque to collapse, the Iranian state news agency claimed this morning.
The agency's Gaza office filed the following dispatch:
Esam Awad, sitting engineer of the al-Aqsa Mosque building committee, has recently discovered that the Israeli authorities have been constructing two new tunnels under the Marwani Mosque in the Al-Aqsa compound.
The disclosure came at a time when the Palestinian Higher Islamic Commission, the Endowments Department, and the Constitutional Council have cautioned Muslims against the Israeli plan to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Southern Wall.
Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, chairman of the commission and the grand mufti of Jerusalem, said in statement that the Israeli government and information media had created a big hue and cry to justify the Jewish state's interference in the affairs of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
He emphasized that Al-Aqsa Mosque is a sacred place "only for the Muslims, around the globe".
The committee for the building of Al-Aqsa started maintenance work on the Southern Wall about four months ago, Sabri said. "However", he pointed out that "the Israeli authorities were hampering the work, by preventing supply of building materials to the mosque's compound."
Sheikh Ikrima rejected the Israeli claims that it was the maintenance work that created a crack on the Southern Wall. The Islamic Endowments Department carries out the renovation work to protect the Al-Aqsa and not to cause any damage to the Southern Wall.
He also disclosed that the crack was created about 500 years ago when a powerful earthquake hit Jerusalem city.
"We Muslims will do the needful for the maintenance and renovation of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and its facilities as they belong to us only," the engineer emphasized.
"The Haram of Al-Aqsa", he pointed out, "covers an area of 133 donums (about 119,700 square meters), including the outer walls, the Burak Wall, the Marwani Mosque, the Dome of the Rock Mosque and the old Al-Aqsa.
There will be no surrender or bargain or negotiation even on the smallest portion of the Al-Aqsa Mosque or Jerusalem and Palestine, he asserted.