Report: Iraqi Workers Erase Hebrew From Prophet Ezekiel's Tomb

Iraq government says damage during renovation of nearby mosque was unintentional.

Iraqi workers erased an ancient Hebrew inscription from the tomb of biblical prophet Ezekiel while renovating a nearby mosque, Army Radio reported on Sunday.

The tomb is located south of Baghdad in the village of Al Kilf, and Jews, Christians, and Muslims regularly visit the site.

Professor Shmuel Morre of Hebrew University, who was born in Baghdad, says the historical damage is irreversible. "There are Muslim elements that are attempting to erase the Jewish character of the tomb," Army Radio quoted Morre as saying.

Iraq maintains that the damage was done unintentionally by untrained workers. Professor Morre, however, is skeptical. "I urge UNESCO to supervise the renovations and to have them carried out by professionals and not simple workers," Morre told Army Radio.

"Every year, scores of Babylonian Jews ascended the tomb. It's the holiest site for the Jews of Babylon," Morre said.

According to Army Radio, the Iraqi government dispelled claims the damage was done on purpose, and asserted that it sees the Jewish sites as assets important for tourism. It maintains that the incident isn't only damaging to Jewish history, but is also harmful to the interests of the Iraqi government.