For the 9th consecutive day, works continued to take place close to the third holiest site for Muslims worldwide, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, causing continued outrage across the Islamic world.
The Israeli authorities erected tents, allegedly deliberately to prevent the media from photographing or documenting the excavation works.
Sheikh Raed Salah, the chairman of the Islamic movement in Israel, is currently barred by a restraining order from entering Jerusalem's old city, following his involvement in protests against Israel's controversial dig close to Al-Aqsa Mosque. He is accused of spitting at the Israeli police and directing the demonstrations.
During a hearing at Jerusalem's magistrate court on Wednesday, Salah asserted that "An Israeli court has no authority to rule on issues connected to Al-Aqsa Mosque." He continued, "Thus any decision made by this court over keeping me away from Al-Aqsa is null and void." He asserted that the indictment against him was completely illegal and pledged to prove the illegality at a future date.
It is reported that Sheikh Salah plans to deliver his Friday sermon this week in his protest tent in Wadi Joz, a neighborhood of east Jerusalem close to the old city. He is banned from getting within 150 meters of the old city. He is urging inhabitants of Jerusalem and Israel to join him in the protest tent.
The Al-Aqsa charitable foundation has reported that Israel has doubled the number of laborers working on the excavations, and that a small machine used in excavation operations has been added to the apparatus.
In another development, at least 25 Jordanian lawmakers have signed a petition urging the government to officially declare that Israel has "violated" the peace treaty concluded between the two countries in 1994 by going ahead with excavations near Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque, the Israeli newspaper 'Haaretz' said on Thursday quoting parliamentary sources.
Article 9 of the peace treaty commits Israel to respect Jordan's role in looking after the Islamic and Christian holy shrines in East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in 1967.
Haaretz says that the Jordanian members of parliament called on their government to summon the Jordanian ambassador from Tel Aviv back to Jordan and to "dismiss" the Israeli ambassador from Amman.