Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE INTERVIEW

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, Former WHO Deputy Regional Director for Africa

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Towards a 'Third Intifada'?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Germany and Russia discuss secret Ukraine deal

Read more

DEBATE

Iraq's Christians: Nowhere to Run? (part 2)

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

France commemorates a hero of the left

Read more

DEBATE

Iraq's Christians: Nowhere to Run?

Read more

WEB NEWS

Fake Twitter accounts spread chinese propaganda

Read more

FOCUS

What solutions for California's overcrowded prisons?

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Gaza conflict: Palestinians mark sombre Eid

Read more

  • Israel calls up 16,000 more reservist as Gaza death toll soars

    Read more

  • Scores feared dead in India landslide

    Read more

  • Video: Inside Hamas ‘terror’ tunnels in Gaza

    Read more

  • Sierra Leone quarantines Ebola outbreak epicentres

    Read more

  • Russia ordered to pay further EUR1.9bn to Yukos shareholders

    Read more

  • Russia defiant as US, EU unveil 'phase three' sanctions

    Read more

  • Iraq's Christians: Nowhere to Run?

    Read more

  • US House votes to sue Obama for over-reaching his powers

    Read more

  • Argentina fails to reach deal with creditors

    Read more

  • Women should not laugh in public, Turkey's deputy PM says

    Read more

  • Suspect in Jewish Museum attack charged with 'terrorist' murder

    Read more

  • Fourth female suicide bomber targets Nigerian city

    Read more

  • US rebounds to 4% growth in second quarter

    Read more

  • Rats on the rampage at Louvre museum gardens

    Read more

Wailing Wall starting to crumble

Latest update : 2008-04-18

Jerusalem's Western Wall, both Israel's holiest site and its biggest tourist attraction, is starting to crumble. Repair works on the remnants of the 2,000-year-old temple are set to run through the summer, though the plaza will remain open.

Part of Jerusalem's Western Wall, the holiest site for Jews, has started crumbling and needs to be fixed to protect worshippers who bow in prayer before the massive ancient stones, officials said on Tuesday.

Each year, some six million people visit what is also known as the Wailing Wall, revered by Jews as the remnant of their Second Temple and Israel's biggest tourist attraction.

Ironically, the layers of stones that predate the 70 AD destruction of the temple are in fine shape, while smaller ones at the top of the wall, added less than 100 years ago, are showing signs of wear.

"There are two types of stone. Some are from the Second Temple more than two thousand years ago and they are in a good state, generally speaking," said Shmuel Rabinovitch, the rabbi of the Western Wall.

"The problem is with the stones added during the British Mandate. Those stones are crumbling and we have to adjust them," he said.

Rabinovitch said repairs are expected to begin soon after the Jewish holiday of Passover, which starts this weekend, and continue through the summer.

But the Western Wall plaza will remain open during the repairs and visitors need not be afraid of being hit by a falling stone, he added.

The Israel Antiquities Authority will be involved in the work and will put protective measures in place in the area where people pray if needed, said Raanan Kislev, director of the authority's conservation department.

He said the state-run archeological body regularly conducts surveys of the wall which will determine the extent of repairs needed.

"Every few months we check the wall," Kislev said. "In the past smaller stones have fallen down."

The authority stressed, however, that the Western Wall was stable.

Its construction dates back to 37 BC when King Herod decided to expand the Second Temple compound -- the center of Jewish worship at the time -- and built four support walls around it.

Much of the 488-meter-long (1,600 foot) Western Wall now runs beneath the streets and houses of the Old City.

The stretch of wall visible at the prayer plaza is only 57 meters (188 feet) long and about 40 meters (130 feet) high. It is there that worshippers bow, sway to-and-fro in prayer and place slips of paper with messages to God in the crevices.

Above the wall is the area known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, which houses the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third-holiest site in Islam.

The Western Wall fell into Jewish hands for the first time since the Roman era after the 1967 Middle East war, when Israel captured and annexed east Jerusalem.

Israel considers Jerusalem its eternal and undivided capital, a claim not recognised by the international community. The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.
 

Date created : 2008-04-17

COMMENT(S)