Not wailing at the wrong Western Wall of the Temple Mount

I am frequently asked to comment on stories on the archaeology of Jerusalem and/or the Temple Mount, that make headline news.  Usually these stories are not well researched and written in such a way as to excite the uninformed public. But, that is what one expects nowadays from the media.

It is therefore surprising that the Popular Archaeology magazine is publishing an article called Wailing at the wrong wall?,  that suggests that the Jewish people have been praying at the wrong wall!

This is a view of the Western Wall of the Herodian Temple Mount in between Barclay’s Gate (lower right) and Wilson’s Arch (lower left). This section of the Temple Mount walls corresponds with the wall that can be seen in the Western Wall Plaza area today. Herod’s Temple towered high above the Temple Mount.

A certain Ms. Sams, who has a degree in English, is picking up the old idea of Ernest Martin that the Temple Mount was not located where all scholars agree it is, but in the City of David. She has decided therefore that the Jewish people are praying at the wrong place. Dr. Jim Davila of PaleoJudaica has written an excellent post showing why Ms. Sam is wrong:

The article refers to some notions by Dr. Ernest L. Martin and “researcher and author” Marilyn Sams, neither of whom is (was, in the case of the late Dr. Martin) a trained specialist in the archaeology of ancient Israel. Dr. Martin’s PhD was in education from Ambassador College. Ms. Sams’s degrees are in English. Their notions about the Temples are not presented at scholarly conferences or debated in peer-review journals. They are not on the radar for specialist discussion of the archaeology of ancient Jerusalem.

This, of course, does not necessarily prove they are wrong, but it does indicate that no specialist has found their ideas interesting enough to bring them into the discussion, which is not a good sign. And quite a few years ago Dr. Leen Ritmeyer, who is familiar to regular readers of PaleoJudaica (recently here and here) and who is a specialist in the archaeology of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, replied to Dr. Martin’s ideas. See here, where his essay from 2001 is reproduced. And see also his blog post here.

The idea that the Jewish people pray (not wail) at the wrong wall is not only academically unsound, but an affront to the Jewish people as well.

HT: Joe Lauer

The Temple Mount during the times of Ezra and Nehemiah

Continuing our series on the development of Mount Moriah and the Temple Mount, we have now arrived at the time of Ezra and Nehemiah.  In the Post-Exilic period, the returnees from Babylon first built the altar and then laid the foundations of the Second Temple (536 BC). There is no reason to doubt that these foundations followed the same orientation as the temple being replaced, as the foundation trenches were preserved in the Rock (as they are to this day). Due to the opposition of the local population, it took twenty years to complete the building of which we are told that it was 60 cubits high and wide, presumably referring to the dimensions of the façade.

This drawing shows the newly rebuilt Temple that apparently was not as grand as the previous one, as Haggai (2.3) said: “Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? And how do ye see it now, is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?” The internal layout of the Temple undoubtedly remained the same and would therefore have been able to function normally, although the quality of the architecture must have appeared inferior in the minds of the ancient people who remembered the first Temple.

Later on, during the time of Nehemiah, the city walls were restored as recorded in Nehemiah Chapter 3:

After the Babylonian Exile, many Jews returned to Jerusalem. They came in relatively small numbers, not sufficient to occupy both the Eastern and Western Hills. It was not until the Hellenistic period that the Western Hill was occupied again. In this drawing we see the rebuilt city of Jerusalem on the Eastern Hill with a smaller Temple on Mount Moriah. On the Western Hill we see the houses and walls that were destroyed by the Babylonians and were not repaired at this time.

Below is the fifth drawing in the series of Mount Moriah that shows the Temple Mount in the Post-Exilic period with the walls of the original square Temple Mount restored  (the first in this series was Mount Moriah itself, followed by the mount during the times of the Jebusites, Solomon and Hezekiah).

The Temple Mount in the time of Nehemiah. The Temple Mount walls were repaired together with the walls of Jerusalem. The northwest towers of Meah and Hananeel are mentioned in Nehemiah 3 (3.1) and also the Corner Tower in the northeast (Neh. 3.32).

A few months ago, we updated our Jerusalem in the Time of Nehemiah book. It was very popular and the first of our books to be sold out completely. The new edition which is now available from our website, has been updated with digital photographs, some by Nathaniel Ritmeyer, and also with new drawings. The above mentioned reconstruction drawing of the Temple built by Jeshua and Zerubbabel has been included, together with new drawings of Jerusalem at that time.

Second and revised edition of Jerusalem in the time of Nehemiah (Carta, Jerusalem, 2014).

We are still waiting for our Temple Mount guide book to be published and also the revised Jerusalem in 30 AD . The original version of the latter book was based on our slide set (now discontinued) which we produced in the 1990’s. This book also soId out. The latest  edition has new digital photographs and an additional section on the Palace of Queen Helena of Adiabene. Although ready for publication, the publishers are waiting for tourism to pick up after the recent unrest in Jerusalem.

New German Bible Lexicon

At the end of last year, SCM R. Brockhaus published a new German Bible Lexicon, the Lexicon Zur Bible. The lexicon has been in print for many years, but this new edition has been very much updated and expanded. The entries are arranged in alphabetical order and many archaeological sites are conscisely described. The Google Map geo-data of each archaeological site is also included. In contrast to the previous versions, the almost one thousand illustrations are in full color and consist of photographs, maps, charts and diagrams. About 40 of my reconstruction drawings, some of which were specially commissioned, are also incorporated, see my drawing of Nehemiah’s Jerusalem below.

This lexicon is a serious reference work on the Bible, written from a Christian perspective. Many of the new archaeological entries have been written by Alexander Schick, who is one of the four editors. He has visited Israel many times and personally knows the Israeli archaeologists whose excavation photographs appear in the lexicon, e.g. Amnon Ben-Tor, Amihai Mazar, Eilat Mazar, Aren Maier and Ronny Reich. Alexander is an avid and gifted photographer himself and can always be relied upon to have up-to-date photographs of sites of biblical interest. He also runs a Qumran and Bible Exhibition.

After the Babylonian Exile, many Jews returned to Jerusalem. They came in relatively small numbers, not sufficient to occupy both the Eastern and Western Hills.
In this annotated drawing we see the rebuilt city of Jerusalem on the Eastern Hill with a smaller Temple on Mount Moriah. The reconstructed Temple Mount had gates and towers and chambers along the inside of its boundaries. The Ophel was to the south of the Temple. The city walls have been reconstructed following archaeological remains that have been found, complemented by the description of the walls in Nehemiah Chapter 3.

Here is a snippet from the publisher’s blurb on the German Amazon website, advertising the book, the publication of which is a major event for Christians in Germany: “The basic character of a reliable reference work based on sound biblical theology remains fully intact. It is a must for anyone who wants to study God’s Word in a deeper way”.

One could only wish that this lexicon was available in English!

New archaeological discoveries in Hierapolis

As stated in a previous post, Francesco D’Andria, professor of classic archaeology at the University of Salento, has been excavating the cave of the Plutonium in Hierapolis. This year, he discovered two unique marble statues:

“The statues represent two mythological creatures,” D’Andria told Discovery News. “One depicts a snake, a clear symbol of the underworld, the other shows Kerberos, or Cerberus, the three-headed watchdog of hell in the Greek mythology.”

Rolled onto itself, the snake looks threateningly toward anybody trying to approach it, while the 4-foot-tall Kerberos resembles the Kangal, the Anatolian shepherd dog. Photo credit: Franscesco D’Andria

According to this article in Discovery News, the excavations also revealed that the source of the thermal springs that produce the white travertine terraces, was located in this cave.

The site represented an important destination for pilgrims. People watched the sacred rites from steps above the cave opening, while priests sacrificed bulls to Pluto. The ceremony included leading the animals into the cave, and dragging them out dead.

During the rites priests sacrificed bulls to Pluto. The ceremony included leading the animals into the cave, and dragging them out dead. Credit: Franscesco D’Andria

According to another newspaper report, the tombs located in the extensive northern cemetery of Hierapolis are being restored. While removing the asphalt road that ran through the middle of the cemetery, an ancient road was discovered.

The Tomb of the Gladiator, which is located next to the road, has a decorated lintel over the entrance showing a pot of oil, a trident and a shield. Photo: Leen Ritmeyer

Denizli Mayor Abdülkadir Demir said they were celebrating the 25th anniversary of Pamukkale’s inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List. He said Pamukkale was a very important tourism center for Turkey due to its travertine, ancient pool and thermal sources. He said, “When we look at figures in the beginning of November, we see the number of visitors is 100,000 more than last year. Interest is increasing every year.”

The northern necropolis of hierapolis is located on top of the city’s famous travertine cliffs. Here is a rich collection of ancient tombs, which immediately immerse the visitor in the city’s history. From the northern entrance, one walks over a mile long path that is lined with funerary monuments. This necropolis contains some 1000 tombs made of limestone in all shapes and sizes. Photo: Leen Ritmeyer

Hierapolis is mentioned in the New Testament. The believers in Hierapolis were very precious to the Apostle Paul (Col. 4:13). One wonders if any of those early Christian believers may have been buried here.

Restoration of the ‘crown’ of the Damascus Gate

The Damascus Gate is located in the centre of the northern wall of the Old City of Jerusalem. The Kikar haShabbat News reports that the top of this gate has been restored as part of the Jerusalem City Wall Conservation Project.

The Damascus Gate. Photo: © Nathaniel Ritmeyer

The article puts special emphasis on the central decoration at the top of the gate, nicknamed ‘the crown’, that was destroyed in the Six Day War.

This detail shows the 'crown' before restoration.
The 'crown' after restoration. Photo: Kikar haShabbat

The Damascus Gate was built by the Turkish sultan Suleiman the Magnificent  in 1538 AD  over the remains of a Roman gate. That gate was built in the 2nd century AD during the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a monumental entrance to the city of Jerusalem, which he had renamed Aelia Capitolina. This gate features on the Madaba Map, which shows an open square with a column inside the gate. In the Byzantine period, the gate was incorporated into the city wall.

Reconstruction drawing of the Roman gate. © Leen Ritmeyer

Jack Sasson reports the article in full:

After extensive conservation work on the largest and most impressive of Jerusalem’s gates, which took nearly a year to complete, visitors there can now enjoy the gate in all its splendor just as the public experienced it for hundreds of years, until  the ‘crown’ was damaged in the battles of 1967.
The conservation of the gate was carried out as part of the Jerusalem City Wall Conservation Project, in cooperation with the Jerusalem Development Authority, the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Prime Minister’s Office

For hundreds of years, when visitors arrived in Jerusalem and entered the city by way of Damascus Gate – the largest and most magnificent of Jerusalem’s gates – they glanced up and saw the large ‘crown’ that the sultan Suleiman the Magnificent built atop the gate in 1538 CE.

But in 1967 the gate sustained serious damage and the crown was destroyed during the fighting in the Six Day War. Now, the Jerusalem Development Authority, in cooperation with the Israel Antiquities Authority and with funding provided by the Prime Minister’s Office, is concluding a comprehensive project of rehabilitating Damascus Gate, during which the gate was cleaned of the effects from the ravages of time and its ornamentation was restored, including the magnificent ‘crown’ at the top of the gate.

When workers of the Conservation Department of the Israel Antiquities Authority went about restoring the decorations on Damascus Gate they were aided by pictures of the gate that were taken at the beginning of the twentieth century when the British governed Jerusalem.  The pictures show the gate in all its glory, with the crown at the top of the center embrasure, and based on this the conservators proceeded with their work. As part of the engineering and stabilizing measures performed, the ‘crown’ was secured to the core of the wall by means of eleven anchors. At the same time the decoration’s four stones were
completely restored, and its ceiling was covered again with stone slabs as it was in the past, based on the historical photographs.

“The Old City of Jerusalem is a focus of interest for people the world over and the number one tourist attraction in Israel”, says the Elʽad Kendel, director of the Old City Basin in the Jerusalem Development Authority, “the city walls and the gates are the first thing that everyone sees when they arrive at the Old City, and it is therefore important to us that tourists, both domestic and foreign, see the city in all its glory”.

According to Avi Mashiah, the project’s architect on behalf of the Conservation Department of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The work at Damascus Gate was particularly challenging since it is located at the entrance to a noisy and bustling marketplace. All of the work that was carried out there was done so in agreement with the local merchants. In order to avoid disturbing business in the marketplace, work was begun after the last stall closed at 10:00 PM, and continued until the early hours of the morning, prior to the start of the following business day.  Because of its beauty, Damascus Gate is also
the most documented of Jerusalem’s city gates and its historical
material and numerous photographs facilitated an accurate restoration of its appearance. Every single decoration, including all of its features, was studied and restored by us down to the smallest detail, in order to provide visitors to the gate as full and complete an experience as possible”.

Four years ago the Jerusalem Development Authority commenced work on the rehabilitation and conservation of the Old City walls in Jerusalem, in cooperation with the Conservation Department of the Israel Antiquities Authority, which is actually carrying out the work on the walls, and with funding provided by the Prime Minister’s Office. As part of the project, work was conducted along the entire length of the Old City walls and on the gates from the Dung Gate, clockwise in the direction of Zion Gate, Jaffa Gate, the New Gate and
Damascus Gate. Work on the wall is currently being done at the
northeastern corner of the Old City and is scheduled to be completed by year’s end.

The work on the wall included conservation, the removal of hazards and the rehabilitation of elements in the wall. In addition a laser scan was used for the purpose of precisely measuring the wall, particularly the gates, which were surveyed and studied at the level of individual stones. The Jerusalem Development Authority and the Israel Antiquities
Authority are pleased that visitors to the Damascus Gate can now enjoy the full splendor of the structure, and experience it exactly as the public has for 460 years, until the gate was damaged in 1967.

Mughrabi Gate bridge is back on the agenda

From the Jerusalem Post:

A plan for the renovation of the Mughrabi Gate bridge, which leads from the Western Wall plaza to the Al-Aksa Mosque and the Temple Mount, received final approval from the Jerusalem Municipality last week, enabling construction to begin at any time.

Previous work on the bridge has sparked widespread rioting and violence in both east Jerusalem and the Arab world due to the sensitive location.

The wooden replacement bridge to the Mughrabi Gate and the excavations of the ramp. Photo: Leen Ritmeyer

We reported on the problems of the construction of a new bridge here, here and here.

A section through the Mughrabi ramp, with the Western wall Plaza at left and the Temple Mount excavations at right. © Leen Ritmeyer

“This drawing is a section through the dirt ramp leading up to the Mughrabi Gate. The ramp is in the middle of the drawing. On the left is the Western Wall Plaza, reserved for Jewish worship. On the right of the section is the excavated area with, on the bottom, the Herodian street, with the stones which were thrown down by the Romans in 70 AD. Immediately above this level, remains of the Byzantine period were found, including a water channel cut into the Herodian stones for use in a bath house. Above this level, the remains of a large Ummayad palace was found, which used a similar water channel, cut higher in the Herodian stones of the Western Wall. No Crusader remains have so far been found in this area.”

It will be interesting to see what will happen now. Approval may have been granted, but the building of a new bridge may not be accepted by all:

“[Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel] Rabinovitch dismissed any suggestion of renewed tensions, even with the Arab world in a state of unrest.

“We don’t see any reason for conflict, because we’re talking about a bridge renovation,” Rabinovitch said on Monday.

“In Jerusalem, you never can tell,” said Peace Now’s Hagit Ofran. “There are things we think will cause riots and don’t do anything, and there are things that we don’t understand why they suddenly riot.”

Tunnel-vision politics in Jerusalem

On my return from Jordan, I found that it was and still is widely reported that an underground tunnel has been opened in Jerusalem and, as expected, some outrageous Palestinian comments made about the supposed danger to the Temple Mount, such as these:

The tunnel leading from the City of David in Silwan to beneath the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City, excavated by the Israel Antiquities Authority and announced to media fanfare Sunday, is drawing fire from Palestinians who claim it will damage the Temple Mount.

Fatah Revolutionary Council member Dimitri Diliani accused the Jerusalem municipality of Judaizing East Jerusalem and said the digging constituted a “direct danger to al-Aqsa.”

The tunnel in question was first discovered by Charles Warren in the 1870’s, recorded by subsequent excavators such as Bliss and Dickie, Johns and Kathleen Kenyon. A large section below Robinson’s Arch was cleared during Benjamin Mazar’s excavations in the 1970’s. Not only did Warren publish a plan of the tunnel, but in the 1970’s the Irish architect David Sheehan together with my late sister Martha made a detailed survey of the tunnel. The tunnel was constructed as a drain below the street that ran above it.

This plan is based on Warren’s drawing and is published in my book The Quest, p. 56:

Plan of the drain, shown in blue, at the southwest corner of the Temple Mount as discovered by Charles Warren. This plan makes it clear that the drain-tunnel skirts the Temple Mount and poses no danger to it.

There are two distinct phases to be discerned in the tunnel. The older sections to the north and to the south on the plan are roofed with flat slabs, while the central section has a vaulted roof. The flat roofed sections used to belong to one and the same Pre-Herodian, possibly Hasmonean period, while the vaulted section is Herodian.

This picture shows the vaulted Herodian section of the drain below Robinson's Arch. Photo: Tomer Appelbaum

It is clear from the above plan that the construction of the Herodian southwest corner of the Temple Mount cut the earlier drain and a detour was constructed going round this corner, using short sections of vaulting, to reconnect the drain again. This Herodian section also cut through some First Temple period tombs:

A First Temple period tomb, cut through by the Herodian drain. Photo: Marc Israel Sellem

Even Israeli commentators don’t get the purpose of this tunnel right. According to this report:

Visitors are now able to walk from the center of Silwan to the Western Wall plaza within several minutes, via a shaft that researchers believe was used for drawing water from the tunnel. The shaft is in the area of the Davidson Archaeological Park and Center, between the southern wall of the Temple Mount and the Dung Gate, and when the work is completed it will serve as the entrance to the tunnel.

The purpose of this tunnel was not to supply water, but to drain away rainwater that fell on the street and to drain off the sewage of adjacent buildings into the drain:

Manhole with five slots in the Herodian street, leading rain water into the drain below. Photo: Leen Ritmeyer

During the Mazar excavations, this tunnel was visited many times by staff and volunteers alike. It is great to hear that the full length of this drain has been opened all the way down to the Siloam Pool. It will be exciting to walk again through this tunnel, but while doing so, one should also remember that in 70 AD many Jerusalemites tried to escape through this same tunnel, but were cruelly killed by the Romans when they were discovered.

Oleg Grabar

Yesterday, 8 January, 2011, Oleg Grabar, Professor Emeritus in the School of Historical Studies at Princeton University, passed away.

Oleg Grabar’s research has had a profound and far-reaching influence on the study of Islamic art and architecture. His extensive archaeological expeditions and research trips cover the vast expanse of the Islamic world in Africa, the Middle East, and Muslim Asia.

Interior view of the Dome of the Rock - photo © Saïd Nuseibeh, The Shape of the Holy, p. 75.

His book, The Shape of the Holy: Early Islamic Jerusalem (1996), details the role of Islam in defining the “look” of Jerusalem that remained largely intact until the twentieth century. A great part of the book is taken up with a description of the beautiful mosaics of the Dome of the Rock, complemented by a set of splendid photographs.

A brief overview of his career can be viewed here.

Source: Jack Sasson

New Studies on Jerusalem

The 16th Annual Conference of the Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies on “NEW STUDIES ON JERUSALEM” will be held on Thursday, December 16th, 2010 in the Mintz Auditorium (Building 404), Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan. Here is the program:

8:20 Gathering

8:45 Opening remarks:

Prof. Joshua. Schwartz, Director of the Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies

Prof. Avraham Faust & Dr. Eyal Baruch, conference organizers

Session 1 – 9:00- 10:50 Chair: Aren Maeir

09:00 Gabriel Barkay – Kathleen Kenyon in Jerusalem – The Excavations which Terminated a Brilliant Career

09:20 Tsvika Tsuk – The Water Sources of the First Temple at Jerusalem

09:40 Gershon Galil – King David’s First Decade as King of Jerusalem and his Relations with the Philistines in Light of the Qeiyafa Excavation and Inscription

10:00 Moshe Garsiel – The Latent Literary Encounter between Samuel, the Prophet from Shiloh and Ramah, and Nathan, the Prophet of the Jerusalemite Court

10:20 Hillel Geva – The Development of Northern Jerusalem during the Second Temple Period: the Archaeological Evidence and its Significance

10:40 Discussion

10:50 Break

Session 2 – 11:20- 13:10 Chair: Joshua Schwartz

11:20 Ram Bouchnick, Guy Bar-Oz & Ronny Reich – On the Importance of Poultry in the Animal Economy of Judea in the Late Second Temple Period

11:40 Joseph Patrich – The Building Project of Simeon the Just on the Temple Mount: the literary sources, suggested remains and a graphical representation

12:00 Ofer Sion – The Upper Aqueduct of Jerusalem in the area of Jaffa Gate

12:20 Emmanuel Friedheim – Was There a Meeting between Jewish Monotheism and Polytheism in the Second Temple?

12:40 Michael Ben Ari – The Battle of Jerusalem: Destructive Divisiveness or Strategic Coordination, A New Reading of the Writings of Josephus Flavius

13:00 Discussion

13:10 Lunch Break

Session 3 – 14:20-16:40 Chair: Moshe Fischer

14:20 Yehoshua Peleg – The Passover Sacrifice in the Herodian Temple

14:30 Naomi Sidi, Eli Shukron & Ronny Reich – Late Second Temple Period Pottery from the Stepped Street in the Tyropoenon Valley and from the Drain Under It: A ComparativeStudy

14:50 Boaz Zissu & Amos Kloner – Horvat Midras (Kh. Durusiya) – A Reassessment of an Archaeological Site from the Second Temple Period and the Bar-Kokhba Revolt

15:10 Ze’ev Safrai – The Memory of the Temple

15:30 Amos Kloner & Boaz Zissu – A Street Pavement Along Lions Gate Street and its Dating to the First Century CE

15:50 Eitan Klein – The Origins of the Rural Settlers in the Judean Mountains and Foothills during the Late Roman period

16:10 Bat-Sheva Garsiel – The Status of Jerusalem in the Period of the Umayyad and the Abbasid Dynasties (From the mid seventh to the ninth Century CE)

16:30 Discussion

16:40 Break

Session 4 – 17:00- 18:40 Chair: Adrian Boas

17:00 Michael Ehrlich – The Ovens of the Holy Sepulcher during the Crusader Period

17:20 Shlomo Lotan – Exploring and Recovering the Concealed Part of the German Crusaders Church of Saint Mary in the Center of the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem

17:40 Perez Reuven – A Manuscript Fragment in Arabic Written in Hebrew Letters from the Mamluk Period Found at the Al-Aqsa Mosque

18:00 Gérald Finkielsztejn – The Convent Outside the New Gate that Saved West Jerusalem (1894-1948)

18:20 Oded Shay – “Jerusalem is the Washington of Israel”: The journey to Jerusalem of the Zionist Functionary Dr. Otto Abeles, 1925

18:40 Discussion

The Conference is dedicated to the Memory of Israel Shalem z”l, a Fellow of the Rennert Center. The meeting is open to all (free of charge)

The conference proceedings (approximately 300 pp., including 17articles in Hebrew, with English abstracts) will be on sale during the conference

For additional information, please contact the Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies:

<jrslm1@mail.biu.ac.il> or Avi Faust <fausta@mail.biu.ac.il>.

HT: Jack Sasson

Rachel’s Tomb, The Tomb of the Patriarchs and the Mugrabi Gate

The politicians are at it again. UNESCO has declared The Tomb of Rachel to be a mosque. Israel’s Prime Minister has slammed the report.

The claim is, of course, ludricous. This photograph, taken in 1890-1900, already describes the building as The Tomb of Rachel:

The Tomb of Rachel - photograph taken in 1890-1900

Joe Lauer reminded us of what Abba Eban once said about the United Nations General Assembly, “If Algeria introduced a resolution declaring that the earth was flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass by a vote of 164 to 13 with 26 abstentions.” 

When guiding round the Temple Mount excavations, we always pointed out that the headquarters of the United Nations are rightfully situated on the Mount of Evil Counsel.

In another report, the US demands from Israel to remove the Tomb of the Patriarchs from Israel’s list of national heritage sites. The very architecture of the Tomb of the Patriarchs of proves that it was built by Herod the Great.

The Tomb of the Patriarchs. The wall has been partly cut away to indicate the location of the double cave where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their wives were buried.- © Leen Ritmeyer

The Mugrabi Gate is also in the news, as it has been reported that falling stones from the ramp could endanger the women who pray below:

UNESCO appeared to support the PA demand for the Temple Mount as well, asking that Muslim officials be allowed to examine the Mughrabi Gate near the Western Wall (Kotel). Muslim leaders have accused Israel of attempting to damage the Al-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount under the guise of repairs to the Mugrabi Gate. Israeli officials have warned that if the gate is not repaired, it could collapse, putting worshipers at the Western Wall at risk.

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich, Rabbi of the Western Wall, termed the decision “outrageous.” “They have never said in the past that this was a Muslim holy site. The [UN] organization responsible for heritage has turned heritage into politics.” Israel should think carefully about whether or not to cooperate with UNESCO in the future, he said.

In an earlier post, The UNESCO leopard has not changed its spots, we discussed the problems of the ramp. It is clear that nothing has changed in the attitude of UNESCO. See also Todd Bolen’s post: Falling Stones Endanger Women at Western Wall.

HT: Joe Lauer