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Israeli excavations near Al-Aqsa 'damage Palestinian homes'

Nov. 23, 2013 4:12 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 24, 2013 10:30 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian man who lives near the Al-Aqsa Mosque says his house suffered major cracks Friday as a result of Israeli excavations around the property.

Muhammad Zaghoul pointed out to Ma'an major cracks and sagging in the walls and ceilings in his East Jerusalem house which consists of three rooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom.

He highlighted that the layer of plaster and parts of the concrete in the ceiling of his kitchen broke away and fell to the ground while his family was at home. The floor of the house also sank, he added.

Zaghoul pointed out that sagging and cracks in his house appeared seven years ago, but on Friday they enlarged significantly. He added that excavation under his house have been ongoing for several years. Workers, he said, start to dig at night and they leave only in the morning using heavy equipment.

As a result, most houses in the Asila quarter sustained damages, he added.

Zaghoul added that his family of 12 had to leave the house as a result of the damage.

Israel frequently permits excavations and archaeological digs in the Old City of Jerusalem, specifically around the Al-Aqsa mosque, that threaten the structural integrity of Palestinian homes and holy sites in the area.

In 1967, Israel demolished the 800-year-old Moroccan Quarter of Jerusalem, displacing 650 Palestinians and destroying numerous mosques, homes, and holy sites, in order to build a plaza in front of the Western Wall. Israel subsequently evicted around 6,000 Palestinians from nearby areas in order to massively expand the city's historical Jewish Quarter.

The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.

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