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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 February 2007, 18:44 GMT
Israel to film holy site digging
Building work near Dome of the Rock
Israel denies the excavations threaten al-Aqsa mosque
The Israeli authorities say they are installing video cameras to film excavations near Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque - Islam's third holiest site.

They say live footage will be shown to reassure people that the mosque is not being damaged during the digging.

They say the work needs to be completed to replace a walkway, despite angry protests from Muslims around the world.

Muslims see the dig as a provocation, and the webcams are unlikely to make much difference, correspondents say.

By installing three cameras, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) says it wants to show that this is a proper archaeological work, the BBC's Helen Fawkes in Jerusalem says.

SACRED TO MUSLIMS: Site of Prophet Muhammad's first prayers and ascent into Heaven, home to al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock
SACRED TO JEWS: Site of first and second Temples and the rock on which Abraham offered his son as a sacrifice. Western Wall is the holiest site in Judaism

The IAA says live video images of the excavation will be shown on its website beginning on Thursday.

It says the cameras will be filming the area close to the mosque 24 hours a day.

But a spokesman for the religious trust which runs al-Aqsa mosque said this was purely cosmetic.

He added that instead of putting up cameras, the digging should stop.

On Sunday, Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski said construction work on the edge of a compound was suspended to allow public consultations.

However, preparatory excavations are continuing, despite riots by Muslim worshippers since the digging began last week.

The site is also revered by Jews as the site of their biblical temples.

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