Inside Story

What’s driving Israeli excavations under Al-Aqsa Mosque?

Israeli-funded digging in occupied East Jerusalem has been condemned by international archaeologists. 

The Israeli government has held its weekly cabinet meeting in tunnels excavated under the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem.

Above ground, a far-right Israeli minister entered the area shortly before the government gathered and proclaimed Israelis as “landlords of Jerusalem”.

This has infuriated the Palestinians, who have been increasingly angered by more incursions by ultra-nationalist Jewish groups into one of Islam’s holiest sites.

Al-Aqsa was also a flashpoint earlier this year, with Israeli police filmed beating Palestinians praying inside the mosque.

The cabinet meeting again brings into focus the controversy provoked by Israeli archaeology and excavation beneath the ancient city.

So why is this work so controversial?

Presenter: Nastasya Tay


Alon Arad – Executive director of Emek Shaveh

Mazin Qumsiyeh – Director of Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability

Rami Khouri – Director of Global Engagement at the American University of Beirut