A tourism advertisement produced by the Israeli Foreign Ministry was banned before it could be released, as it showed the CGI destruction of the Dome of the Rock, a Muslim holy site.
The video features Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon speaking in front of the mosque, when it collapses – and from its ruins rises King Solomon’s Temple, meant to postulate the presence of Judaism in the region before Islam.
The ad was aimed to promote tourism in Jerusalem, which Israel considers to be its capital despite international near-consensus that the country's capital is Tel Aviv. In the clip, Ayalon describes the Jewish history of the city and shows off its cultural sights.
In the original version, Ayalon attempts to show Jerusalem’s ancient Jewish roots by placing a virtual temple atop the crumbling mosque, the Times of Israel reports.
Foreign Ministry officials decided to replace the scene with a dissolving rather than destroyed mosque, expressing fears that a depiction of the mosque's destruction could cause discontent among Muslims.
The film was banned from official release and was uploaded only onto Ayalon's Youtube Channel.
However, the film was denounced as part of the Israeli government's agenda of destroying the Arab-Islamic identity of Jerusalem.
Ikrima Sabri, the head of the Supreme Islamic Council in Jerusalem, said in a press statement that the ad is “a part of the [Israeli] occupation plans to reveal its hostile intentions towards the holy shrine," Al Arabiya reports.
According to Sabri, “the ad film shows that targeting the shrine is no longer limited to the extremist Jewish groups and that it is now vulnerable to many threats.”
It's not the first time Palestinians have voiced concerns about about Israel's policy towards Muslim cultural heritage in Jerusalem.
The Dome of the Rock is a highly revered shrine for Muslims, among whom it is also known Haram al-Sharif or Noble Sanctuary. Located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, Muslims believe it commemorates the Prophet Mohammed’s miraculous night journey into heaven.
It was constructed on the site of the First Temple built under Solomon, King of the Israelites, which was replaced by the Second Temple, destroyed during the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD. Jewish eschatology includes a belief that the Second Temple will in turn be replaced by a future Third Temple.
Previously there have been other scandals connected with the mosque. There were allegations during the Israeli elections earlier in the year that Knesset candidate Jeremy Gimpel publicly called for the destruction of the Dome of the Rock.
The Dome of the Rock (screenshot from YouTube user DannyAyalon)
King Solomon’s Temple (screenshot from YouTube user DannyAyalon)