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Jerusalem tunnel 'puts lives in danger'

Jan. 26, 2011 8:02 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 27, 2011 6:24 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli archaeologists have completed an excavation beneath the Old City of Jerusalem that "represents another violation against Al-Aqsa Mosque," officials from the Wad Hilweh Information Center said Wednesday.

The controversial 600-meter tunnel, believed to have been originally built in 500 BC as a drainage channel, starts at an archaeological site just south of the Haram Ash-Sharif or Noble Sanctuary, which houses the third holiest site in Islam.

Israeli archaeologists said the tunnel was a remnant of what Jews call the Second Temple period.

In a statement condemning the excavations and the opening of the tunnel, the community center, based in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, reminded the public that during the excavations, six homes in the neighborhood suffered severe damage to their foundations and some collapsed.

The walls of other homes in the neighborhood, the statement said, had cracked as a result of the underground work. Such an invasive dig puts "the lives of thousands of residents in Wadi Hilweh in danger."

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