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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 February 2007, 14:05 GMT
Israel blocks Jerusalem protest
Israeli border policeman guards road near al-Aqsa mosque
Israeli police have worked hard to curb protests about the work
A press event planned by Christian and Muslim leaders in Jerusalem criticising excavations near a the main holy sites has been stopped by Israeli police.

The police said one of the news conference sponsors was linked to the ruling Palestinian party Hamas, which Israel considers a terrorist group.

Israel recently announced halting the work beside the Temple Mount or Haram al-Sharif in East Jerusalem.

The digging angered Muslims who allege it could undermine ancient foundations.

Israel has launched a public consultation into the work. Preliminary excavations by Israeli archaeologists.

The Israeli authorities say the dig is meant to salvage archaeological remains ahead of the construction of a new pedestrian walkway to the hilltop compound.

A centuries-old walkway on the same site collapse during a snowstorm in 2004.

'Childish' behaviour

Israeli police went to the Commodore Hotel in East Jerusalem in the morning and delivered an order cancelling the event sponsored by the Al-Aqsa Foundation.

This behaviour does not protect security. It actually makes the security situation explosive
Islamic Movement leader Raed Salah

Organisers tried to move the event to a nearby hotel, but police quickly moved in and broke it up.

"We strongly condemn this childish behaviour," said organiser Sheikh Raed Salah, a leader of the Israeli Islamic Movement.

"This behaviour does not protect security. It actually makes the security situation explosive."

The press conference was also attended by a representative of the Greek Orthodox Church and the Muslim mufti of Jerusalem.

The Haram al-Sharif, the name given to the Temple Mount by Muslims, is home to the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock - Islam's third-holiest shrine.

Jews believe the Temple Mount is where Abraham offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice to God. It is also the site to the First and Second Temples. The Western Wall of the compound is the holiest site in Judaism.

The holy places are in East Jerusalem, territory occupied by Israel in the 1967 war.

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