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Report: Arabs burning 'First Temple cedars'

Cedar beams dating to biblical times found at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, moved some time ago out of doors and left in the weather, now have been deposited unceremoniously at a dumping ground for local Arabs to use as firewood, according to a new report.

According to Israel National News, it was a group of Jews who ascended the Temple Mount on Sunday who were shocked to see the ancient beams – apparently used during the time of the Holy Temple – left to be used for firewood.

Archaeologists have dated the beams to the First Temple period, and they have been described as the “Cedars of Lebanon,” which are discussed in the Tanach.

Officials with the Temple Mount Sifting Project appeared to confirm parts of the report, citing an article from Nadav Shragai of Israel Hayom! that the beams were endangered.

“Some of these beams predate the first al-Aqsa Mosue and have been used and reused numerous times in various structures, which actually aided in their preservation. We have some fragments of these beams among the finds at the Sifting Project,” the report said.

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“We have been monitoring these beams for many years as they law exposed to the weather in the open courts of the Temple Mount,” the report said. “We hope the Israel Antiquities Authority will succeed in placing them in a safe shelter before the coming winter. We have been requesting that the IAA deal with this issue more than three years, but these ancient beams have yet to be properly secured.”

According to the new INN report, the beams first appeared in the 1930s at a time when the Muslim mosque on the Temple Mount was being refurbished.

“At that time they were said to be thousands of years old by archaeologists – preserved only because they had been used in the building,” the report said. Some pieces were dated to Roman times, others to the Byzantine era.

After they were taken from the mosque, they were placed in a museum, but in recent years were moved to a corner of the Mount in the elements, the report said.

Now, many of the beams have been placed at what appears to be a dumping ground next to the Golden Gate of the Old City, “apparently for the use of local Arabs as firewood,” the report said. “Jewish groups that visited the Mount saw the beams being moved, but reported that the Arabs forbade them to take photos of the activity. Officials of the Archaeology Authority, who are responsible for the safety of these ancient beams, are nowhere to be seen.”

See a video segment from Israel National News: