New plans for expanding the Western Wall Plaza near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem

In a previous report we wrote about plans to construct an underground elevator to make the western access to the Western Wall Plaza easier for the disabled. Now a different and much larger tunnel is planned to access the Western Wall Plaza from the south. See this report in Haaretz. The new plan also provides for a larger prayer area for women:

The Jerusalem Planning and Building Committee will meet today (October 4th, 2010) to discuss a master plan for expanding the Western Wall Plaza.
The program, still in its initial phase of planning, has already provoked an outcry among opponents, including Islamic groups, women’s rights groups and denizens of the Old City’s Jewish Quarter.
The plan – prepared by the Western Wall Foundation in conjunction with the Jerusalem municipality and Jerusalem Development Authority – includes the construction of a new underground passageway that would become the main entryway to the plaza.

Planned access to the Western Wall Plaza.
1. Dung Gate. 2. Proposed underground tunnel. 3. Present access path to the Temple Mount. 4. Western Wall Plaza.

The Western Wall receives 8 million visitors a year, and by 2025, that number is expected to nearly double.
Excavating the area is complicated by the fact that the plaza was never initially planned. Its appearance today is the result of the hasty demolition of the Moroccan Quarter, the neighborhood that once existed adjacent to the wall, in the immediate aftermath of the 1967 Six-Day War.
The cornerstone of the plan, which has been prepared by the architect Gavriel Kertesz, is to replace the current entryway to the plaza, via the Dung Gate, in favor of a wide underground corridor.
The tunnel will feature a large entry terminal where security personnel will examine visitors. Once inside, visitors will climb stairs or a ramp, or take an elevator, to the plaza itself.
Archaeological finds will line the corridor’s walls, giving visitors a sense of the area’s thousands of years of history.

As usual, a Muslim outcry is expected, but for archaeologists it would be a golden opportunity to learn more about the history of this fascinating area.

HT: Joe Lauer

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