Update: The Iraqi Government has ordered the Ministry of Antiquities to entrust the reconstruction of Ezekiel's shrine at al-Kifl in Iraq to 'specialised International Authorities'.
The surprise statement follows a storm of publicity raised by Professor Shmuel Moreh, Chairman of the Academics from Iraq in Israel. The news, spread by the blogosphere (including Point of No Return) and Israel Army Radio, that workmen had done 'irreversible damage' to the shrine, plastering over ancient Hebrew inscriptions, seems to have embarrassed the Iraqi government into a damage-limitation exercise of their own.
On Saturday, Iraqi TV and al-Arabiyya TV broadcast a film to show that the tomb itself was not damaged. The Iraqis are hoping that "there will be no more exaggeration about this issue."
Professor Moreh wants the Iraqi authorities to transfer control over the restoration and reconstruction of Ezekiel's shrine to UNESCO. It is not clear when this transfer will happen.
The Iraqis may feel that they have deflected international attention for the moment. Unless the world remains vigilant and holds the Iraqi authorities to their word, and international pressure is kept up, the Iraqis may just quietly continue destroying the original features of the shrine.
Please write to Mrs Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, urging her organisation to take immediate control of Ezekiel's shrine. http://www.unesco.org/webworld/portal/processing/forms/contact/en/form.php (UNESCO website)
http://www.bokova.eu/?page_id=66 (Mrs Bokova's personal website)