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The Old City (Hebrew: העיר העתיקה, Ha'Ir Ha'Atiqah, Arabic: البلدة القديمة, al-Balda al-Qadimah, Turkish: Kudüs, Armenian: Երուսաղեմի հին քաղաք, Yerusaghemi hin k'aghak' ) is a 0.9 square kilometers (0.35 sq mi) walled area within the modern city of Jerusalem. Until 1860, when the Jewish neighborhood Mishkenot Sha'ananim was established, this area constituted the entire city of Jerusalem. The Old City is home to several sites of key religious importance: the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque for Muslims, the Temple Mount and Western Wall for Jews and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for Christians, It was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site List in 1981. Traditionally, the Old City has been divided into four uneven quarters, although the current designations were introduced only in the 19th century. Today, the Old City is roughly divided (going counterclockwise from the northeastern corner) into the Muslim Quarter, Christian Quarter, Armenian Quarter and Jewish Quarter. The Old City's monumental defensive walls and city gates were built in the years 1535-1542 by the Turkish sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. The current population of the Old City resides mostly in the Muslim and Christian quarters. As of 2007 the total population was 36,965; the breakdown of religious groups in 2006 was 27,500 Muslims (up from ca. 17,000 in 1967, with over 30,000 by 2013, tendency: growing); 5,681 Christians (ca. 6,000 in 1967), not including the 790 Armenians (down to ca. 500 by 2011, tendency: decreasing); and 3,089 Jews (starting with none in 1967, as they were evicted after the Old City was captured by Jordan following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, with almost 3,000 plus some 1,500 yeshiva students by 2013, tendency: growing). Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the Old City was captured by Jordan and all its Jewish residents were evicted. During the Six-Day War in 1967, which saw hand-to-hand fighting on the Temple Mount, Israeli forces captured the Old City along with the rest of East Jerusalem, subsequently annexing them as Israeli territory and reuniting them with the western part of the city. Today, the Israeli government controls the entire area, which it considers part of its national capital. However, the Jerusalem Law of 1980, which effectively annexed East Jerusalem to Israel, was declared null and void by United Nations Security Council Resolution 478. East Jerusalem is now regarded by the international community as part of occupied Palestinian territory. In 2010, Jerusalem's oldest fragment of writing was found outside the Old City's walls. Contents 1 History2 Jerusalem Quarters 2.1 Muslim Quarter2.2 Christian Quarter2.3 Armenian Quarter2.4 Jewish Quarter 3 Moroccan Quarter4 City walls5 Gates 5.1 Open gates5.2 Sealed gates 6 See also7 References8 External links 8.1 Virtual tours History See also: Timeline of Jerusalem According to the Bible, before King David's conquest of Jerusalem in the 11th century BCE the city was home to the Jebusites. The Bible describes the city as heavily fortified with a strong city wall. The city ruled by King David, known as Ir David, or the City of David, was southeast of the Old City walls, outside the Dung Gate. His son King Solomon extended the city walls and then, in about 440 BCE, during the Persian period, Nehemiah returned from Babylon and rebuilt them. In 41-44 CE, Agrippa, king of Judea, built a new city wall known as the "Third Wall." Muslims occupied Jerusalem in the 7th Century (637 CE) under the second caliph, `Umar Ibn al-Khattab who annexed it to the Islamic Arab Empire. He granted its inhabitants an assurance treaty. After the siege of Jerusalem, Sophronius welcomed `Umar because, according to biblical prophecies allegedly known to the church in Jerusalem, "a poor, but just and powerful man" would rise to be a protector and ally to the Christians of Jerusalem. Sophronius believed that `Umar, a great warrior who led an austere life, was a fulfillment of this prophecy. In the account by the Patriarch of Alexandria, Eutychius, it is said that `Umar paid a visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and sat in its courtyard. When the time for prayer arrived, however, he left the church and prayed outside the compound, in order to avoid having future generations of Muslims use his prayer there as a pretext for converting the church into a mosque. Eutychius adds that `Umar also wrote a decree which he handed to the Patriarch, in which he prohibited Muslims gathering in prayer at the site. In 1099, Jerusalem was captured by the Western Christian army of the First Crusade and it remained in their hands until recaptured by the Arab Muslims, led by Saladin, on October 2, 1187. He summoned the Jews and permitted them to resettle in the city. In 1219, the walls of the city were razed by Mu'azzim Sultan of Damascus; in 1229, by treaty with Egypt, Jerusalem came into the hands of Frederick II of Germany. In 1239 he began to rebuild the walls, but they were demolished again by Da'ud, the emir of Kerak. In 1243, Jerusalem came again under the control of the Christians, and the walls were repaired. The Kharezmian Tatars took the city in 1244 and Sultan Malik al-Muattam razed the walls, rendering it again defenseless and dealing a heavy blow to the city's status. Suleiman I 1530 The current walls of the Old City were built in 1535-42 by the Ottoman Turkish sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. The walls stretch for approximately 4.5 km (2.8 miles), and rise to a height of between 5 and 15 metres (16.4–49 ft), with a thickness of 3 metres (10 feet) at the base of the wall. Altogether, the Old City walls contain 35 towers, most of which (15) are in the more exposed northern wall. Suleiman's wall had six gates, to which a seventh, the New Gate, was added in 1887; several other, older gates, have been walled up over the centuries. The Golden Gate was at first rebuilt and left open by Suleiman's architects, only to be walled up a short while later. In 1980, Jordan proposed that the Old City be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was added to the List in 1981. In 1982, Jordan requested that it be added to the List of World Heritage in Danger. The United States government opposed the request, noting that the Jordanian government had no standing to make such a nomination and that the consent of the Israeli government would be required since it effectively controlled Jerusalem. In 2011, UNESCO issued a statement reiterating its view that East Jerusalem is "part of the occupied Palestinian territory, and that the status of Jerusalem must be resolved in permanent status negotiations." Jerusalem Quarters Arab market Old City promenade in snow, 2008 Muslim Quarter The Muslim Quarter (Arabic: حارَة المُسلِمين, Hārat al-Muslimīn) is the largest and most populous of the four quarters and is situated in the northeastern corner of the Old City, extending from the Lions' Gate in the east, along the northern wall of the Temple Mount in the south, to the Western Wall – Damascus Gate route in the west. Its population was 22,000 in 2005. Like the other three quarters of the Old City, the Muslim quarter had a mixed population of Jews as well as Muslims and Christians until the riots of 1929. Today, there are "many Israeli settler homes" and "several yeshivas", including Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim, in the Muslim Quarter. Christian Quarter See also: Jerusalem in Christianity The Christian Quarter (Arabic: حارة النصارى, Ḩārat an-Naşāra) is situated in the northwestern corner of the Old City, extending from the New Gate in the north, along the western wall of the Old City as far as the Jaffa Gate, along the Jaffa Gate – Western Wall route in the south, bordering the Jewish and Armenian Quarters, as far as the Damascus Gate in the east, where it borders the Muslim Quarter. The quarter contains the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, viewed by many as Christianity's holiest place. Armenian Quarter See also: Armenian Apostolic Church The Armenian Quarter (Armenian: Հայկական Թաղամաս, Haygagan T'aġamas, Arabic: حارة الأرمن, Ḩārat al-Arman) is the smallest of the four quarters of the Old City. Although the Armenians are Christian, the Armenian Quarter is distinct from the Christian Quarter. Despite the small size and population of this quarter, the Armenians and their Patriarchate remain staunchly independent and form a vigorous presence in the Old City. After the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the four quarters of the city came under Jordanian control. Jordanian law required Armenians and other Christians to "give equal time to the Bible and Qur'an" in private Christian schools, and restricted the expansion of church assets. The 1967 war is remembered by residents of the quarter as a miracle, after two unexploded bombs were found inside the Armenian monastery. Today, more than 3,000 Armenians live in Jerusalem, 500 of them in the Armenian Quarter. Some are temporary residents studying at the seminary or working as church functionaries. The Patriarchate owns the land in this quarter as well as valuable property in West Jerusalem and elsewhere. In 1975, a theological seminary was established in the Armenian Quarter. After the 1967 war, the Israeli government gave compensation for repairing any churches or holy sites damaged in the fighting, regardless of who caused the damage. Jerusalem History TimelineCity of DavidSecond Temple PeriodMiddle AgesKingdom of JerusalemMutasarrifateBritish MandateJordanian occupation Sieges 925 BCE721 BCE597 BCE587 BCE7061463710991187124419171948 Places SynagoguesChurchesMosques Old CityEast JerusalemZionTempleTemple MountWestern WallDome of the RockAl-Aqsa MosqueChurch of the Holy SepulchreHebrew UniversityJerusalem Biblical Zoo People MayorsChief rabbisGrand MuftisPatriarchs Greek OrthodoxArmenianLatinMelkite Anglican BishopKingsQueens Demographic history Positions NamesReligious significance JudaismChristianityIslam Temple DenialJerusalem Law Jerusalem DayQuds Day JudaizationIslamization Other topics FlagEmblemMunicipalityJerusalem Development AuthorityTransportArchaeological excavationsJerusalem syndromeSongs"And did those feet in ancient time"Zion Category vte Jewish Quarter Western Wall plaza Jewish Quarter. The Jewish Quarter (Hebrew: הרובע היהודי, HaRova HaYehudi, known colloquially to residents as HaRova, Arabic: حارة اليهود, Ḩārat al-Yahūd) lies in the southeastern sector of the walled city, and stretches from the Zion Gate in the south, bordering the Armenian Quarter on the west, along the Cardo to Chain Street in the north and extends east to the Western Wall and the Temple Mount. The quarter has a rich history, with a nearly continual Jewish presence since the eighth century BCE. In 1948, its population of about 2,000 Jews was besieged, and forced to leave en masse. The quarter was completely sacked by Arab forces during the Battle for Jerusalem and ancient synagogues were destroyed. The Jewish quarter remained under Jordanian control until its recapture by Israeli paratroopers in the Six-Day War of 1967. A few days later, Israeli authorities ordered the demolition of the adjacent Moroccan Quarter, forcibly relocating all of its inhabitants, in order to facilitate public access to the Western Wall. The section of the Jewish quarter destroyed prior to 1967 has since been rebuilt and settled and has a population of 2,348 (as of 2004). Many large educational institutions have taken up residence. Before being rebuilt, the quarter was carefully excavated under the supervision of Hebrew University archaeologist Nahman Avigad. The archaeological remains are on display in a series of museums and outdoor parks, which tourists can visit by descending two or three stories beneath the level of the current city. The former Chief Rabbi is Rabbi Avigdor Nebenzahl, and the current Chief Rabbi is his son Rabbi Chizkiyahu Nebenzahl, who is on the faculty of Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh, which is situated directly across from the Kotel. The quarter includes the "Karaites' street" (Hebrew: רחוב הקראים, Rhehov Ha'karaim), on which the old Anan ben David Kenesa is located. Moroccan Quarter Main article: Moroccan Quarter Clearing the plaza in front of the Kotel, July 1967 There was previously a small Moroccan quarter in the Old City. Within a week of the Six-Day War's end, the Moroccan quarter was largely destroyed in order to give visitors better access to the Western Wall by creating the Western Wall plaza. The parts of the Moroccan Quarter that were not destroyed are now part of the Jewish Quarter. Simultaneously with the demolition, a new regulation was set into place by which the only access point for non-Muslims to the Temple Mount is through the Gate of the Moors, which is reached via the so-called Mughrabi Bridge. City walls Main article: Walls of Jerusalem Gates Jaffa Gate During different periods, the city walls followed different outlines and had a varying number of gates. During the era of the crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem for instance, Jerusalem had four gates, one on each side. The current walls were built by Suleiman the Magnificent, who provided them with six gates; several older gates, which had been walled up before the arrival of the Ottomans, were left as they were. As to the previously sealed Golden Gate, Suleiman at first opened and rebuilt it, but then walled it up again as well. The number of operational gates increased to seven after the addition of the New Gate in 1887; a smaller eighth one, the Tanners' Gate, has been opened for visitors after being discovered and unsealed during excavations in the 1990s. The sealed historic gates comprise four that are at least partially preserved (the double Golden Gate in the eastern wall, and the Single, Triple, and Double Gates in the southern wall), with several other gates discovered by archaeologists of which only traces remain (the Gate of the Essenes on Mount Zion, the gate of Herod's royal palace south of the citadel, and the vague remains of what 19th-century explorers identified as the Gate of the Funerals (Bab al-Jana'iz) or of al-Buraq (Bab al-Buraq) south of the Golden Gate). Until 1887, each gate was closed before sunset and opened at sunrise. As indicated by the chart below, these gates have been known by a variety of names used in different historical periods and by different communities. Open gates English Hebrew Arabic Alternative names Construction Year Location New Gate HaSha'ar HeHadash השער החדש Al-Bab al-Jedid الباب الجديد Gate of Hammid 1887 West of northern side Damascus Gate Sha'ar Shkhem שער שכם Bab al-Amoud باب العمود Sha'ar Damesek, Nablus Gate, Gate of the Pillar 1537 Middle of northern side Herod's Gate Sha'ar HaPerachim שער הפרחים Bab al-Sahira باب الساهرة Sha'ar Hordos, Flower Gate, Sheep Gate 1875 East of northern side Lions' Gate Sha'ar HaArayot שער האריות Bab al-Asbatt باب الأسباط Gate of Yehoshafat, St. Stephen's Gate, Gate of the Tribes, Bab Sittna Maryam (باب ستي مريم, "St. Mary's Gate") 1538–39 North of eastern side Excavators' Gate Excavation Gate. (Eastern gate of the main Umayyad palace, attributed to Caliph Al-Walid I (705-715). Destroyed by an earthquake around 749, walled up to support Ottoman wall (1537-41), reopened and rebuilt by archaeologists led by Benjamin Mazar and Meir Ben-Dov in 1968.)  705-715, 1968 Wall south of Al-Aqsa Mosque Dung Gate Sha'ar HaAshpot שער האשפות Bab al-Maghariba باب المغاربة Gate of Silwan, Sha'ar HaMugrabim 1538–40 East of southern side Tanners' Gate Sha'ar HaBursekaim שער הבורסקאים 12th century East of southern side Zion Gate Sha'ar Tzion שער ציון Bab al-Nabi Da'oud باب النبي داود Gate to the Jewish Quarter 1540 Middle of southern side Jaffa Gate Sha'ar Yaffo שער יפו Bab al-Khalil باب الخليل The Gate of David's Prayer Shrine, Porta Davidi 1530–40 Middle of western side Sealed gates English Hebrew Arabic Description Period Location Golden Gate Sha'ar HaRahamim שער הרחמים Bab al-Dhahabi / al-Zahabi, "Golden Gate" باب الذهبي A double gate, last sealed in 1541. In Arabic also known as the Gate of Eternal Life. In Arabic each door has its own name: Gate of Mercy, Bab al-Rahma (باب الرحمة) - the southern doorGate of Repentance, Bab al-Taubah (باب التوبة) - the northern door 6th century Northern third of eastern side Single Gate This gate led to the underground area of the Temple Mount known as Solomon's Stables Herodian period Southern wall of Temple Mount Huldah Gates Sha'arei Chulda שערי חולדה Two gates: The Triple Gate, as it comprises three arches. Also known as Bab an-Nabi (باب النبي, "Gate of the Prophet [Muhammad]")The Double Gate, two arches, partially hidden from view by mediaeval building Herodian period Southern wall of Temple Mount [hide] vte Jerusalem Old City Areas Armenian QuarterChristian QuarterJewish QuarterMuslim QuarterTemple Mount Gates DamascusDoubleDungGoldenHerodHuldahJaffaLionsNewSingleTanners'Zion Surrounding roads Hativat YerushalayimHaTsanhanimJaffa RoadJericho RoadMa'ale HaShalomOfel RoadSultan Suleiman Street Synagogues/ Jewish holy sites Four Sephardic SynagoguesHurva SynagogueTiferet Yisrael SynagogueWestern WallWestern Wall Tunnel Churches/ Christian holy sites Cathedral of St. JamesChurch of the Holy SepulchreLutheran Church of the RedeemerSt. Toros Church Mosques/ Islamic holy sites Al-Aqsa MosqueDome of the AscensionDome of the RockMosque of Omar See also Demographic history of JerusalemGates of the Temple MountList of cities with defensive wallsList of places in JerusalemTimeline of JerusalemWalls of JerusalemZedekiah's Cave The Walls of Jerusalem (Arabic: أسوار القدس; Hebrew: חומות ירושלים) surround the Old City of Jerusalem (approx. 1 km²). In 1535, when Jerusalem was part of the Ottoman Empire, Sultan Suleiman I ordered the ruined city walls to be rebuilt. The work took some four years, between 1537 and 1541. The length of the walls is 4,018 meters (2.4966 mi), their average height is 12 meters (39.37 feet) and the average thickness is 2.5 meters (8.2 feet). The walls contain 34 watchtowers and seven main gates open for traffic, with two minor gates reopened by archaeologists. In 1981, the Jerusalem walls were added, along with the Old City of Jerusalem, to the UNESCO World Heritage Site List. Today the walls of Jerusalem, which were originally built to protect the city against intrusions, mainly serve as an attraction for tourists. Contents 1 History 1.1 Pre-Israelite city1.2 Israelite city (ca. 1000-587/86 BCE)1.3 Jewish post-exilic city1.4 Aelia Capitolina and Byzantine Jerusalem1.5 Early Islamic through Mamluk period1.6 Ottoman period 2 See also3 References History Pre-Israelite city The city of Jerusalem has been surrounded by walls for its defense since ancient times. In the Middle Bronze Age, a period also known in biblical terms as the era of the Patriarchs, a city named Jebus was built on the south-eastern hill of Jerusalem, relatively small (50,000 square meters) but well fortified. Remains of its walls are located above the Siloam Tunnel. Israelite city (ca. 1000-587/86 BCE) According to Jewish tradition, as expressed in the Tanakh, Jerusalem remained a Jebusite city until the rise of David, who conquered Jebus, renamed it City of David and started expanding it. His city was still located on the low southeastern hill, outside today's Old City area. Solomon, David's son, built the so-called First Temple on the hilltop rising right above the city he had inherited, the so-called Temple Mount, and then extended the city walls in order to protect the temple. During the First Temple period the city walls were extended to include the northwest hill as well, i.e. the area where today's Jewish and Armenian Quarter (Jerusalem) Quarters are located. The entire city was destroyed in 587/86 BCE during the siege led by Nebukhadnezzar of Babylon. Jewish post-exilic city After the Babylonian captivity and the Persian conquest of Babylonia, Cyrus II of Persia allowed the Jews to return to Judea and rebuild the Temple. The construction was finished in 516 BCE or 430 BCE. Then, Artaxerxes I or possibly Darius II allowed Ezra and Nehemiah to return and rebuild the city's walls and to govern Judea, which was ruled as Yehud province under the Persians. During the Second Temple period, especially during the Hasmonean period, the city walls were expanded and renovated, constituting what Josephus calls the First Wall. Herod the Great added what Josephus called the Second Wall somewhere in the area between today's Jaffa Gate and Temple Mount. Agrippa I later began the construction of the Third Wall, which was completed just at the beginning of the First Jewish–Roman War. Some remains of this wall are located today near the Mandelbaum Gate gas station. Aelia Capitolina and Byzantine Jerusalem In 70 CE, as a result of the Roman siege during the First Jewish–Roman War, the walls were almost completely destroyed. It would remain in ruins for some six decades, and without protective walls for about two centuries. The pagan Roman city, Aelia Capitolina, which was built after 130 by Emperor Hadrian, was at first left without protective walls. After some two centuries without walls, a new set was erected around the city, probably during the reign of Emperor Diocletian sometime around the year 300. These walls were extensively renewed by the Empress Aelia Eudocia during her banishment to Jerusalem (443-460). Early Islamic through Mamluk period In 1033, most of the walls constructed by Empress Eudocia were destroyed by an earthquake and had to be rebuilt by the Fatimids. In preparation for the expected Crusader siege of 1099, the walls were strengthened yet again, but to little avail. The conquest brought some destruction followed by reconstruction, as did the reconquest by Saladin in 1187. Saladin's nephew, Al-Malik al-Mu'azzam 'Isa, ordered the reconstruction of the city walls, but later on, in 1219, he changed his mind after most of the watchtowers had been built and had the walls torn down, mainly because he feared that the Crusaders would benefit of the fortifications if they managed to reconquer the city. For the next three centuries the city remained without protective walls, the Temple Mount/Haram ash-Sharif and the citadel being the only well fortified area during this period. Ottoman period In the 16th century, during the reign of the Ottoman Empire in the region, Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent decided to fully rebuild the city walls, partially on the remains of the ancient walls. The construction lasted from 1535–1538, and these are the walls that exist today. An inscription in Arabic from the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent states: Has decreed the construction of the wall he who has protected the home of Islam with his might and main and wiped out the tyranny of idols with his power and strength, he whom alone God has enabled to enslave the necks of kings in countries (far and wide) and deservedly acquire the throne of the Caliphate, the Sultan son of the Sultan son of the Sultan son of the Sultan, Suleyman. See also Western WallSouthern WallAncient city walls around the City of DavidBroad Wall (Jerusalem)City gates of the Old City of Jerusalem The Western Wall, Wailing Wall or Kotel (Hebrew: הַכֹּתֶל הַמַּעֲרָבִי (help·info), translit.: HaKotel HaMa'aravi; Ashkenazic pronunciation: Kosel; Arabic: حائط البراق, translit.: Ḥā'iṭ Al-Burāq, translat.: the Buraq Wall, or al-Mabka: the Place of Weeping) is an ancient limestone wall in the Old City of Jerusalem. It is a relatively small segment of a far longer ancient retaining wall, known also in its entirety as the "Western Wall". The wall was originally erected as part of the expansion of the Second Jewish Temple by Herod the Great, which resulted in the encasement of the natural, steep hill known to Jews and Christians as the Temple Mount, in a large rectangular structure topped by a huge flat platform, thus creating more space for the Temple itself and its auxiliary buildings. The Western Wall is considered holy due to its connection to the Temple Mount. Because of the status quo policy, the Wall is the holiest place where Jews are permitted to pray, though it is not the holiest site in the Jewish faith, which lies behind it. The original, natural and irregular-shaped Temple Mount was gradually extended to allow for an ever larger Temple compound to be built at its top. This process was finalised by Herod the Great, who enclosed the Mount with an almost rectangular set of retaining walls, built to support extensive substructures and earth fills needed to give the natural hill a geometrically regular shape. On top of this box-like structure Herod built a vast paved esplanade which surrounded the Temple. Of the four retaining walls, the western one is considered to be closest to the former Temple, which makes it the most sacred site recognised by Judaism outside the former Temple Mount esplanade. Just over half the wall's total height, including its 17 courses located below street level, dates from the end of the Second Temple period, and is commonly believed to have been built around 19 BCE by Herod the Great, although recent excavations indicate that the work was not finished by the time Herod died in 4 BCE. The very large stone blocks of the lower courses are Herodian, the courses of medium-sized stones above them were added during the Umayyad era, while the small stones of the uppermost courses are of more recent date, especially from the Ottoman period. The term Western Wall and its variations is mostly used in a narrow sense for the section traditionally used by Jews for prayer, and it has also been called the "Wailing Wall", referring to the practice of Jews weeping at the site over the destruction of the Temples. During the period of Christian Roman rule over Jerusalem (ca. 324–638), Jews were completely barred from Jerusalem except to attend Tisha be-Av, the day of national mourning for the Temples, and on this day the Jews would weep at their holy places. The term "Wailing Wall" was thus almost exclusively used by Christians, and was revived in the period of non-Jewish control between the establishment of British Rule in 1920 and the Six-Day War in 1967. The term "Wailing Wall" is not used by Jews and increasingly many others who consider it derogatory. In a broader sense, the Western Wall can refer to the entire 488 meter-long retaining wall on the western side of the Temple Mount. The classic portion now faces a large plaza in the Jewish Quarter, near the southwestern corner of the Temple Mount, while the rest of the wall is concealed behind structures in the Muslim Quarter, with the small exception of a 25 ft (8 m) section, the so-called Little Western Wall. The segment of the Western retaining wall traditionally used for Jewish liturgy known as the "Western Wall" derives its particular importance to it having never been fully obscured by medieval buildings, and displaying much more of the original Herodian stonework than the "Little Western Wall". In religious terms, the "Little Western Wall" is presumed to be even closer to the Holy of Holies and thus to the "presence of God" (Shechina), and the underground Warren's Gate, which has been out of reach since the 12th century, even more so. The wall has been a site for Jewish prayer and pilgrimage for centuries; the earliest source mentioning this specific site as a place of worship is from the 16th century. The previous sites used by Jews for mourning the destruction of the Temple, during periods when access to the city was prohibited to them, lay to the east, on the Mount of Olives and in the Kidron Valley below it. From the mid-19th century onwards, attempts to purchase rights to the wall and its immediate area were made by various Jews, but none was successful. With the rise of the Zionist movement in the early 20th century, the wall became a source of friction between the Jewish and Muslim communities, the latter being worried that the wall could be used to further Jewish claims to the Temple Mount and thus Jerusalem. During this period outbreaks of violence at the foot of the wall became commonplace, with a particularly deadly riot in 1929 in which 133 Jews were killed and 339 injured. After the 1948 Arab-Israeli War the Eastern portion of Jerusalem was occupied by Jordan. Under Jordanian control Jews were completely expelled from the Old City including the Jewish quarter, and Jews were barred from entering the Old City for 19 years, effectively banning Jewish prayer at the site of the Western Wall. This period ended on June 10, 1967, when Israel gained control of the site following the Six-Day War. Three days after establishing control over the Western Wall site the Moroccan Quarter was bulldozed by Israeli authorities to create space for what is now the Western Wall plaza. Contents 1 Etymology2 Location and dimensions3 Accessibility 3.1 People with disabilities3.2 Transgender individuals 4 History 4.1 Construction 19 BCE4.2 Roman Empire and rise of Christianity 100–500 CE4.3 Middle Ages 500–15004.4 Ottoman period 1517–1917 4.4.1 Firmans issued regarding the Wall 4.5 British rule 1917–48 4.5.1 September 1928 disturbances4.5.2 1929 Palestine riots4.5.3 1930 international commission 4.6 Jordanian rule 1948–67 4.6.1 "Al Buraq (Wailing Wall) Rd" sign 4.7 Israeli rule 1967–present 4.7.1 Robinson's Arch4.7.2 Wilson's Arch4.7.3 Rabbis of the wall 5 Theology and ritual 5.1 Judaism 5.1.1 Sanctity of the Wall5.1.2 Mourning the Temple's destruction5.1.3 Prayer at the Wall 184.108.40.206 Egalitarian and non-Orthodox prayer220.127.116.11 Prayer notes 5.2 Islam5.3 Christianity 6 Views 6.1 Jewish6.2 Israeli6.3 Muslim6.4 Palestinian6.5 American 7 See also8 Footnotes9 References10 External links Etymology Jews may often be seen sitting for hours at the Wailing-place bent in sorrowful meditation over the history of their race, and repeating oftentimes the words of the Seventy-ninth Psalm. On Fridays especially, Jews of both genders, of all ages, and from all countries, assemble in large numbers to kiss the sacred stones and weep outside the precincts they may not enter. Charles Wilson, 1881 Early Jewish texts referred to a "western wall of the Temple", but there is doubt whether the texts were referring to the outer, retaining wall called today "the Western Wall", or to the western wall of the actual Temple. The earliest Jewish use of the Hebrew term "ha-kotel ha-ma'aravi", "the Western Wall", as referring to the wall visible today, was by the 11th-century poet Ahimaaz ben Paltiel. The name "Wailing Wall", and descriptions such as "wailing place", appeared regularly in English literature during the 19th century. The name Mur des Lamentations was used in French and Klagemauer in German. This term itself was a translation of the Arabic el-Mabka, or "Place of Weeping", the traditional Arabic term for the wall. This description stemmed from the Jewish practice of coming to the site to mourn and bemoan the destruction of the Temple. At some time in the 19th century, the Arabs began referring to the wall as the al-Buraq Wall. This was based on the tradition that inside the wall was the place where Muhammad tethered his miraculous winged steed, al-Buraq. The tradition on which this is based only states that the Prophet, or the angel Jibra'il (Gabriel), tethered the steed at the gate of the mosque, meaning: at the gate of the Temple Mount. The location of the entry gate identified as the one used by Muhammad varied throughout the centuries, from the eastern and southern walls, to the southwest corner, and finally at the western wall, and specifically at Barclay's Gate immediately adjacent to the "Wailing Place" of the Jews. Israeli archaeologist Meir Ben-Dov concluded that the Muslim association with Western Wall began in the late nineteenth century in response to renewed Jewish identification with the site. Location and dimensions Panorama of the Western Wall with the Dome of the Rock (left) and al-Aqsa mosque (right) in the background The Western Wall and Dome of the Rock The Western Wall commonly refers to a 187-foot (57 m) exposed section of ancient wall situated on the western flank of the Temple Mount. This section faces a large plaza and is set aside for prayer. In its entirety, however, the above-ground portion of the Western Wall stretches for 1,600 feet (488 m), most of which is hidden behind residential structures built along its length. Other revealed sections include the southern part of the Wall which measures approximately 80 metres (262 ft) and another much shorter section known as the Little Western Wall which is located close to the Iron Gate. The wall functions as a retaining wall, supporting and enclosing the ample substructures built by Herod the Great around 19 BCE. Herod's project was to create an artificial extension to the small quasi-natural plateau on which the First and Second Temples stood, transforming it into the almost rectangular, wide expanse of the Temple Mount visible today. At the Western Wall Plaza, the total height of the Wall from its foundation is estimated at 105 feet (32 m), with the exposed section standing approximately 62 feet (19 m) high. The Wall consists of 45 stone courses, 28 of them above ground and 17 underground. The first seven visible layers are from the Herodian period. This section of wall is built from enormous meleke limestone blocks, possibly quarried at either Zedekiah's Cave situated under the Muslim Quarter of the Old City or at Ramat Shlomo 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) northwest of the Old City. Most of them weigh between 2 and 8 short tons (1.8 and 7.3 t) each, but others weigh even more, with one extraordinary stone located slightly north of Wilson's Arch measuring 13 metres (43 ft) and weighing approximately 517 tonnes (570 short tons). Each of these ashlars is framed by fine-chiseled borders. The margins themselves measure between 5 and 20 centimetres (2 and 8 in) wide, with their depth measuring 1.5 centimetres (0.59 in). In the Herodian period, the upper 10 metres (33 ft) of wall were 1 metre (39 in) thick and served as the outer wall of the double colonnade of the Temple platform. This upper section was decorated with pilasters, the remainder of which were destroyed when the Byzantines reconquered Jerusalem from the Persians in 628.[dubious – discuss] The next four courses, consisting of smaller plainly dressed stones, date from the Umayyad period (Muslim, 8th century). Above that are 16–17 courses of small stones from the Mamluk period (Muslim, 13–16th century) and later. The well known story that the top layers of the Wall were added by Sir Moses Montefiore  is unsubstantiated. Accessibility People with disabilities The plaza and Wall are accessible to wheelchairs and people with mobility difficulties via either the Dung Gate or Jaffa Gate. Access directly from the Jewish Quarter of the Old City is via "a considerable number of steep steps". Access for cars is very restricted, "and parking is a nightmare" so disabled visitors are advised to arrive by taxi or public transportation. Guide dogs are permitted. Transgender individuals In January 2015 a transgender Jewish woman, Kay Long, was denied access to the Wall, first by the women's section and then by the men's section. Long's presence was prevented by "modesty police" at women’s section who are not associated with the rabbi of the Western Wall or the site administration. They are a group of female volunteers who guard the entrance to the women’s section preventing entry to visitors are not dressed to their idea of Orthodox modesty standards for women. The director of Jerusalem’s Open House, a community center for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, noted that Long’s experience was not unique. "Gender separation at the Western Wall is harmful for transgender people. This is not the first story that we know of with transgender religious people that wanted to go to the Western Wall and pray and couldn’t," said Elinor Sidi, who expects that the battle for access to the Western Wall for the GLBTQ community will be a long and difficult one. History Construction 19 BCE Engraving, 1850 According to the Hebrew Bible, Solomon's Temple was built atop what is known as the Temple Mount in the 10th century BCE and destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, and the Second Temple completed and dedicated in 516 BCE. Around 19 BCE Herod the Great began a massive expansion project on the Temple Mount. In addition to fully rebuilding and enlarging the Temple, he artificially expanded the platform on which it stood, doubling it in size. Today's Western Wall formed part of the retaining perimeter wall of this platform. In 2011, Israeli archaeologists announced the surprising discovery of Roman coins minted well after Herod's death, found under the foundation stones of the wall. The excavators came upon the coins inside a ritual bath that predates Herod's building project, which was filled in to create an even base for the wall and was located under its southern section. This seems to indicate that Herod did not finish building the entire wall by the time of his death in 4 BCE. The find confirms the description by historian Josephus Flavius, which states that construction was finished only during the reign of King Agrippa II, Herod’s great-grandson. Given Josephus' information, the surprise mainly regarded the fact that an unfinished retaining wall in this area could also mean that at least parts of the splendid Royal Stoa and the monumental staircase leading up to it could not have been completed during Herod's lifetime. Also surprising was the fact that the usually very thorough Herodian builders had cut corners by filling in the ritual bath, rather than placing the foundation course directly onto the much firmer bedrock. Some scholars are doubtful of the interpretation and have offered alternative explanations, such as, for example, later repair work. Herod's Temple was destroyed by the Romans, along with the rest of Jerusalem, in 70 CE, during the First Jewish-Roman War. Roman Empire and rise of Christianity 100–500 CE In the early centuries of the Common Era, after the Roman defeat of the Bar Kokhba revolt in 135 CE, Jews were banned from Jerusalem. There is some evidence that Roman emperors in the 2nd and 3rd centuries did permit them to visit the city to worship on the Mount of Olives and sometimes on the Temple Mount itself. When the empire became Christian under Constantine I, they were given permission to enter the city once a year, on the ninth day of the month of Av, to lament the loss of the Temple at the wall. The Bordeaux Pilgrim, written in 333 CE, suggests that it was probably to the perforated stone or the Rock of Moriah, "to which the Jews come every year and anoint it, bewail themselves with groans, rend their garments, and so depart". This was because an Imperial decree from Rome barred Jews from living in Jerusalem. Just once per year they were permitted to return and bitterly grieve about the fate of their people. Comparable accounts survive, including those by the Church Father, Gregory of Nazianzus and by Jerome in his commentary to Zephaniah written in 392 CE. In the 4th century, Christian sources reveal that the Jews encountered great difficulty in buying the right to pray near the Western Wall, at least on the 9th of Av. In 425 CE, the Jews of the Galilee wrote to Byzantine empress Aelia Eudocia seeking permission to pray by the ruins of the Temple. Permission was granted and they were officially permitted to resettle in Jerusalem. Middle Ages 500–1500 Several Jewish authors of the 10th and 11th centuries write about the Jews resorting to the Western Wall for devotional purposes. Ahimaaz relates that Rabbi Samuel ben Paltiel (980-1010) gave money for oil at "the sanctuary at the Western Wall." Benjamin of Tudela (1170) wrote "In front of this place is the Western Wall, which is one of the walls of the Holy of Holies. This is called the Gate of Mercy, and hither come all the Jews to pray before the Wall in the open court." The account gave rise to confusion about the actual location of Jewish worship and some suggest that Benjamin in fact referred to the Eastern Wall along with its Gate of Mercy. While Nahmanides (d. 1270) did not mention a synagogue near the Western Wall in his detailed account of the temple site, shortly before the Crusader period a synagogue existed at the site. Obadiah of Bertinoro (1488) states "the Westen Wall, part of which is still standing, is made of great, thick stones, larger than any I have seen in buildings of antiquity in Rome or in other lands." Shortly after the Siege of Jerusalem, in 1193, Saladin’s son and successor al-Afdal established the land adjacent to the wall as a charitable trust. It was named after an important mystic Abu Madyan Shu'aib and dedicated to Moroccan settlers who had taken up residence there. Houses were built only 4 metres (13 ft) away from the wall. The first mention of the Islamic tradition that Buraq was tethered at the site is from the 14th century. A manuscript by Ibn Furkah, (d. 1328), refers to Bab al-Nab, an old name for a gate along the southwestern wall of the Haram al-Sharif. Ottoman period 1517–1917 Wailing Wall, Jerusalem, by Gustav Bauernfeind (19th century). In 1517, the Turkish Ottomans conquered Jerusalem from the Mamluks who had held it since 1250 and various folktales relate Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent's quest to locate the Temple site and his order to have the area "swept and sprinkled, and the Western Wall washed with rosewater" upon its discovery. In the late 16th century, Suleiman ordered the construction of an imposing fortress-wall to be built around the entire city, which still stands today. At the time, Jews received official permission to worship at the site and Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan built an oratory for them there. In 1625 arranged prayers at the Wall are mentioned for the first time. Over the centuries, land close to the Wall became built up. Public access to the Wall was through the Moroccan Quarter, a labyrinth of narrow alleyways. In May 1840 a firman issued by Ibrahim Pasha forbade the Jews to pave the passageway in front of the Wall. It also cautioned them against “raising their voices and displaying their books there.” They were, however, allowed “to pay visits to it as of old.” Rabbi Joseph Schwarz writing in the mid-19th-century records: "This wall is visited by all our brothers on every feast and festival; and the large space at its foot is often so densely filled up, that all cannot perform their devotions here at the same time. It is also visited, though by less numbers, on every Friday afternoon, and by some nearly every day. No one is molested in these visits by the Mahomedans, as we have a very old firman from the Sultan of Constantinople that the approach shall not be denied to us, though the Porte obtains for this privilege a special tax, which is, however, quite insignificant." Over time the increased numbers of people gathering at the site resulted in tensions between the Jewish visitors who wanted easier access and more space, and the residents, who complained of the noise. This gave rise to Jewish attempts at gaining ownership of the land adjacent to the Wall. Photograph of the Western Wall, 1870 In the late 1830s a wealthy Jew named Shemarya Luria attempted to purchase houses near the Wall, but was unsuccessful, as was Jewish sage Abdullah of Bombay who tried to purchase the Western Wall in the 1850s. In 1869 Rabbi Hillel Moshe Gelbstein settled in Jerusalem. He arranged that benches and tables be brought to the Wall on a daily basis for the study groups he organised and the minyan which he led there for years. He also formulated a plan whereby some of the courtyards facing the Wall would be acquired, with the intention of establishing three synagogues – one each for the Sephardim, the Hasidim and the Perushim. He also endeavoured to re-establish an ancient practice of "guards of honour", which according to the mishnah in Middot, were positioned around the Temple Mount. He rented a house near the Wall and paid men to stand guard there and at various other gateways around the mount. However this set-up lasted only for a short time due to lack of funds or because of Arab resentment. In 1874, Mordechai Rosanes paid for the repaving of the alleyway adjacent to the wall. In 1887 Baron Rothschild conceived a plan to purchase and demolish the Moroccan Quarter as "a merit and honor to the Jewish People." The proposed purchase was considered and approved by the Ottoman Governor of Jerusalem, Rauf Pasha, and by the Mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammed Tahir Husseini. Even after permission was obtained from the highest secular and Muslim religious authority to proceed, the transaction was shelved after the authorities insisted that after demolishing the quarter no construction of any type could take place there, only trees could be planted to beautify the area. Additionally the Jews would not have full control over the area. This meant that they would have no power to stop people from using the plaza for various activities, including the driving of mules, which would cause a disturbance to worshippers. Other reports place the scheme's failure on Jewish infighting as to whether the plan would foster a detrimental Arab reaction. Jews' Wailing Place, Jerusalem, 1891 In 1895 Hebrew linguist and publisher Rabbi Chaim Hirschensohn became entangled in a failed effort to purchase the Western Wall and lost all his assets. Even the attempts of the Palestine Land Development Company to purchase the environs of the Western Wall for the Jews just before the outbreak of World War I never came to fruition. In the first two months following the Ottoman Empire’s entry into the First World War, the Turkish governor of Jerusalem, Zakey Bey, offered to sell the Moroccan Quarter, which consisted of about 25 houses, to the Jews in order to enlarge the area available to them for prayer. He requested a sum of £20,000 which would be used to both rehouse the Muslim families and to create a public garden in front of the Wall. However, the Jews of the city lacked the necessary funds. A few months later, under Muslim Arab pressure on the Turkish authorities in Jerusalem, Jews became forbidden by official decree to place benches and light candles at the Wall. This sour turn in relations was taken up by the Chacham Bashi who managed to get the ban overturned. In 1915 it was reported that Djemal Pasha closed off the wall to visitation as a sanitary measure. Firmans issued regarding the Wall Year Issued by Content c.1560 Suleiman the Magnificent Official recognition of the right of Jews to pray by the Wall. 1840 Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt Forbidding the Jews to pave the passage in front of the Wall. It also cautioned them against "raising their voices and displaying their books there." They were however allowed "to pay visits to it as of old." 1841* Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt "Of the same bearing and likewise to two others of 1893 and 1909." 1889* Abdul Hamid II That there shall be no interference with the Jews' places of devotional visits and of pilgrimage, that are situated in the localities which are dependent on the Chief Rabbinate, nor with the practice of their ritual. 1893* Confirming firman of 1889. 1909* Confirming firman of 1889. 1911 Administrative Council of the Liwa Prohibiting the Jews from certain appurtenances at the Wall. * These firmans were cited by the Jewish contingent at the International Commission, 1930, as proof for rights at the Wall. Muslim authorities responded by arguing that historic sanctions of Jewish presence were acts of tolerance shown by Muslims, who, by doing so, did not concede any positive rights. British rule 1917–48 Jewish Legion soldiers at the Western Wall after British conquest of Jerusalem, 1917 1920. From the collection of the National Library of Israel. In December 1917, British forces under Edmund Allenby captured Jerusalem from the Turks. Allenby pledged "that every sacred building, monument, holy spot, shrine, traditional site, endowment, pious bequest, or customary place of prayer of whatsoever form of the three religions will be maintained and protected according to the existing customs and beliefs of those to whose faith they are sacred". In 1919 Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann, anxious to enable Jews to access their sacred site unmolested, approached the British Military Governor of Jerusalem, Colonel Sir Ronald Storrs, and offered between £75,000 and £100,000 (approx. £5m in modern terms) to purchase the area at the foot of the Wall and rehouse the occupants. Storrs was enthusiastic about the idea because he hoped some of the money would be used to improve Muslim education. Although they appeared promising at first, negotiations broke down after strong Muslim opposition. Storrs wrote two decades later: "The acceptance of the proposals, had it been practicable, would have obviated years of wretched humiliations, including the befouling of the Wall and pavement and the unmannerly braying of the tragi-comic Arab band during Jewish prayer, and culminating in the horrible outrages of 1929" In early 1920, the first Jewish-Arab dispute over the Wall occurred when the Muslim authorities were carrying out minor repair works to the Wall’s upper courses. The Jews, while agreeing that the works were necessary, appealed to the British that they be made under supervision of the newly formed Department of Antiquities, because the Wall was an ancient relic. In 1926 an effort was made to lease the Maghrebi waqf, which included the wall, with the plan of eventually buying it. Negotiations were begun in secret by the Jewish judge Gad Frumkin, with financial backing from American millionaire Nathan Straus. The chairman of the Palestine Zionist Executive, Colonel F. H. Kisch, explained that the aim was "quietly to evacuate the Moroccan occupants of those houses which it would later be necessary to demolish" to create an open space with seats for aged worshippers to sit on. However, Straus withdrew when the price became excessive and the plan came to nothing. The Va'ad Leumi, against the advice of the Palestine Zionist Executive, demanded that the British expropriate the wall and give it to the Jews, but the British refused. In 1928 the Zionist Organisation reported that John Chancellor, High Commissioner of Palestine, believed that the Western Wall should come under Jewish control and wondered "why no great Jewish philanthropist had not bought it yet". September 1928 disturbances In 1922, a status quo agreement issued by the mandatory authority forbade the placing of benches or chairs near the Wall. The last occurrence of such a ban was in 1915, but the Ottoman decree was soon retracted after intervention of the Chacham Bashi. In 1928 the District Commissioner of Jerusalem, Edward Keith-Roach, acceded to an Arab request to implement the ban. This led to a British officer being stationed at the Wall making sure that Jews were prevented from sitting. Nor were Jews permitted to separate the sexes with a screen. In practice, a flexible modus vivendi had emerged and such screens had been put up from time to time when large numbers of people gathered to pray. The placing of a Mechitza similar to the one in the picture was the catalyst for confrontation between the Arabs, Jews and Mandate authorities in 1928. On September 24, 1928, the Day of Atonement, British police resorted to removing by force a screen used to separate men and women at prayer. Women who tried to prevent the screen being dismantled were beaten by the police, who used pieces of the broken wooden frame as clubs. Chairs were then pulled out from under elderly worshipers. The episode made international news and Jews the world over objected to the British action. The Chief Rabbi of the ultraorthodox Jews in Jerusalem issued a protest letter on behalf of his community, the Edah HaChareidis, and Agudas Yisroel strongly condemning the desecration of the holy site. Various communal leaders called for a general strike. A large rally was held in the Etz Chaim Yeshiva, following which an angry crowd attacked the local police station in which they believed the British officer involved in the fiasco was sheltering. Commissioner Edward Keith-Roach described the screen as violating the Ottoman status quo that forbade Jews from making any construction in the Western Wall area. He informed the Jewish community that the removal had been carried out under his orders after receiving a complaint from the Supreme Muslim Council. The Arabs were concerned that the Jews were trying to extend their rights at the wall and with this move, ultimately intended to take possession of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The British government issued an announcement explaining the incident and blaming the Jewish beadle at the Wall. It stressed that the removal of the screen was necessary, but expressed regret over the ensuing events. A widespread Arab campaign to protest against presumed Jewish intentions and designs to take possession of the Al Aqsa Mosque swept the country and a "Society for the Protection of the Muslim Holy Places" was established. The Vaad Leumi responding to these Arab fears declared in a statement that "We herewith declare emphatically and sincerely that no Jew has ever thought of encroaching upon the rights of Moslems over their own Holy places, but our Arab brethren should also recognise the rights of Jews in regard to the places in Palestine which are holy to them." The committee also demanded that the British administration expropriate the wall for the Jews. From October 1928 onward, Mufti Amin al-Husayni organised a series of measures to demonstrate the Arabs' exclusive claims to the Temple Mount and its environs. He ordered new construction next to and above the Western Wall. The British granted the Arabs permission to convert a building adjoining the Wall into a mosque and to add a minaret. A muezzin was appointed to perform the Islamic call to prayer and Sufi rites directly next to the Wall. These were seen as a provocation by the Jews who prayed at the Wall. The Jews protested and tensions increased. British police post at the entrance to the Western Wall, 1933 British police at the Wailing Wall, 1934 A British inquiry into the disturbances and investigation regarding the principal issue in the Western Wall dispute, namely the rights of the Jewish worshipers to bring appurtenances to the wall, was convened. The Supreme Muslim Council provided documents dating from the Turkish regime supporting their claims. However, repeated reminders to the Chief Rabbinate to verify which apparatus had been permitted failed to elicit any response. They refused to do so, arguing that Jews had the right to pray at the Wall without restrictions. Subsequently, in November 1928, the Government issued a White Paper entitled "The Western or Wailing Wall in Jerusalem: Memorandum by the Secretary of State for the Colonies", which emphasised the maintenance of the status quo and instructed that Jews could only bring "those accessories which had been permitted in Turkish times." A few months later, Haj Amin complained to Chancellor that "Jews were bringing benches and tables in increased numbers to the wall and driving nails into the wall and hanging lamps on them." 1929 Palestine riots Main article: 1929 Palestine riots In the summer of 1929, the Mufti Haj Amin Al Husseinni ordered an opening be made at the southern end of the alleyway which straddled the Wall. The former cul-de-sac became a thoroughfare which led from the Temple Mount into the prayer area at the Wall. Mules were herded through the narrow alley, often dropping excrement. This, together with other construction projects in the vicinity, and restricted access to the Wall, resulted in Jewish protests to the British, who remained indifferent. On August 14, 1929, after attacks on individual Jews praying at the Wall, 6,000 Jews demonstrated in Tel Aviv, shouting "The Wall is ours." The next day, the Jewish fast of Tisha B'Av, 300 youths raised the Zionist flag and sang Hatikva at the Wall. The day after, on August 16, an organized mob of 2,000 Muslim Arabs descended on the Western Wall, injuring the beadle and burning prayer books, liturgical fixtures and notes of supplication. The rioting spread to the Jewish commercial area of town, and was followed a few days later by the Hebron massacre. 133 Jews were killed and 339 injured in the Arab riots, and in the subsequent process of quelling the riots 110 Arabs were killed by British police. This was by far the deadliest attack on Jews during the period of British Rule over Palestine. 1930 international commission In 1930, in response to the 1929 riots, the British Government appointed a commission "to determine the rights and claims of Muslims and Jews in connection with the Western or Wailing Wall", and to determine the causes of the violence and prevent it in the future. The League of Nations approved the commission on condition that the members were not British. The Jews requested that the Commission take the following actions: To give recognition to the immemorial claim that the Wailing Wall is a Holy Place for the Jews, not only for the Jews in Palestine, but also for the Jews of the whole world.To decree that the Jews shall have the right of access to the Wall for devotion and for prayers in accordance with their ritual without interference or interruption.To decree that it shall be permissible to continue the Jewish services under the conditions of decency and decorum characteristic of a sacred custom that has been carried on for many centuries without infringement upon the religious rights of others.To decree that the drawing up of any regulations that may be necessary as to such devotions and prayers, shall be entrusted to the Rabbinate of Palestine, who shall thus re-assume full responsibility in that matter, in discharge of which responsibility they may consult the Rabbinate of the world.To suggest, if the Commissioners approve of the plan, to the Mandatory Power that it should make the necessary arrangements by which the properties now occupied by the Moghrabi Waqf might be vacated, the Waqf authorities accepting in lieu of them certain new buildings to be erected upon some eligible site in Jerusalem, so that the charitable purpose, for which this Waqf was given, may still be fulfilled. The Commission noted that 'the Jews do not claim any proprietorship to the Wall or to the Pavement in front of it (concluding speech of Jewish Counsel, Minutes, page 908).' David Yellin, Head of the Hebrew Teachers Seminary, member of the Ottoman parliament, and one of the first public figures to join the Zionist movement openly, testified before the Commission. He stated: "Being judged before you today stands a nation that has been deprived of everything that is dear and sacred to it from its emergence in its own land – the graves of its patriarchs, the graves of its great kings, the graves of its holy prophets and, above all, the site of its glorious Temple. Everything has been taken from it and of all the witnesses to its sanctity, only one vestige remains – one side of a tiny portion of a wall, which, on one side, borders the place of its former Temple. In front of this bare stone wall, that nation stands under the open sky, in the heat of summer and in the rains of winter, and pours out its heart to its God in heaven." Members of the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry at the Western Wall, 1946 The Commission concluded that the wall, and the adjacent pavement and Moroccan Quarter, were solely owned by the Muslim waqf. However, Jews had the right to "free access to the Western Wall for the purpose of devotions at all times", subject to some stipulations that limited which objects could be brought to the Wall and forbade the blowing of the shofar, which was made illegal. Muslims were forbidden to disrupt Jewish devotions by driving animals or other means. Yitzchak Orenstein, who held the position of Rabbi of the Kotel, recorded in April 1930 that "Our master, Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld came to pray this morning by the Kosel and one of those present produced a small chair for the Rav to rest on for a few moments. However, no sooner had the Rav sat down did an Arab officer appear and pull the chair away from under him." During the 1930s, at the conclusion of Yom Kippur, young Jews persistently flouted the shofar ban each year and blew the shofar resulting in their arrest and prosecution. They were usually fined or sentenced to imprisonment for three to six months. The Shaw commission determined that the violence occurred due to "racial animosity on the part of the Arabs, consequent upon the disappointment of their political and national aspirations and fear for their economic future." Jordanian rule 1948–67 During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War the Old City together with the Wall was controlled by Jordan. Article VIII of the 1949 Armistice Agreement provided for Israeli Jewish access to the Western Wall.[dubious – discuss] However, for the following nineteen years, despite numerous requests by Israeli officials and Jewish groups to the United Nations and other international bodies to attempt to enforce the armistice agreement, Jordan refused to abide by this clause. Neither Israeli Arabs nor Israeli Jews could visit their holy places in the Jordanian territories. An exception was made for Christians to participate in Christmas ceremonies in Bethlehem. Some sources claim Jews could only visit the wall if they traveled through Jordan (which was not an option for Israelis) and did not have an Israeli visa stamped in their passports. Only Jordanian soldiers and tourists were to be found there. A vantage point on Mount Zion, from which the Wall could be viewed, became the place where Jews gathered to pray. For thousands of pilgrims, the mount, being the closest location to the Wall under Israeli control, became a substitute site for the traditional priestly blessing ceremony which takes place on the Three Pilgrimage Festivals. "Al Buraq (Wailing Wall) Rd" sign During the Jordanian rule of the Old City, a ceramic street sign in Arabic and English was affixed to the stones of the ancient wall. Attached 2.1 metres (6 ft 11 in) up, it was made up of eight separate ceramic tiles and said Al Buraq Road in Arabic at the top with the English "Al-Buraq (Wailing Wall) Rd" below. When Israeli soldiers arrived at the wall in June 1967, one attempted to scrawl Hebrew lettering on it. The Jerusalem Post reported that on June 8, Ben-Gurion went to the wall and "looked with distaste" at the road sign; "this is not right, it should come down" and he proceeded to dismantle it. This act signaled the climax of the capture of the Old City and the ability of Jews to once again access their holiest sites. Emotional recollections of this event are related by David ben Gurion and Shimon Peres. Israeli rule 1967–present The iconic image of Israeli soldiers shortly after the capture of the Wall during the Six-Day War. Following Israel's victory during the 1967 Six-Day War, the Western Wall came under Israeli control. Brigadier Rabbi Shlomo Goren proclaimed after its capture that "Israel would never again relinquish the Wall", a stance supported by Israeli Minister for Defence Moshe Dayan and Chief of Staff General Yitzhak Rabin. Rabin described the moment Israeli soldiers reached the Wall: "There was one moment in the Six-Day War which symbolized the great victory: that was the moment in which the first paratroopers — under Gur's command — reached the stones of the Western Wall, feeling the emotion of the place; there never was, and never will be, another moment like it. Nobody staged that moment. Nobody planned it in advance. Nobody prepared it and nobody was prepared for it; it was as if Providence had directed the whole thing: the paratroopers weeping — loudly and in pain — over their comrades who had fallen along the way, the words of the Kaddish prayer heard by Western Wall's stones after 19 years of silence, tears of mourning, shouts of joy, and the singing of "Hatikvah"". Forty-eight hours after capturing the wall, the military, without explicit government order, hastily proceeded to demolish the entire Moroccan Quarter which stood 4 metres (13 ft) from the Wall. The Sheikh Eid Mosque, which was built over one of Jerusalem's oldest Islamic schools, the Afdiliyeh, named after one of Saladin's sons, was pulled down to make way for the plaza. It was one of three or four that survived from Saladin's time. 650 people consisting of 106 Arab families were ordered to leave their homes at night. When they refused, bulldozers began to demolish the structures, causing casualties. One old woman was buried under the houses as the bulldozer razed the area. According to Eyal Weizman, Chaim Herzog, who later became Israel's sixth president, took much of the credit for the destruction of the neighbourhood: When we visited the Wailing Wall we found a toilet attached to it ... we decided to remove it and from this we came to the conclusion that we could evacuate the entire area in front of the Wailing Wall ... a historical opportunity that will never return ... We knew that the following Saturday, June 14, would be the Jewish festival of Shavuot and that many will want to come to pray ... it all had to be completed by then. The narrow pavement, which could accommodate a maximum of 12,000 per day, was transformed into an enormous plaza which could hold in excess of 400,000. Several months later, the pavement close to the wall was excavated to a depth of two and half meters, exposing an additional two courses of large stones. A complex of buildings against the wall at the southern end of the plaza, that included Madrasa Fakhriya and the house that the Abu al-Sa'ud family had occupied since the 16th century, were spared in the 1967 destruction, but demolished in 1969. The section of the wall dedicated to prayers was thus extended southwards to double its original length, from 28 to 60 metres (92 to 197 ft), while the 4 metres (13 ft) space facing the wall grew to 40 metres (130 ft). The dusty plaza stretched from the wall to the Jewish Quarter. The small, approximately 120 square metres (1,300 sq ft) pre-1967 area in front of the wall grew to 2,400 square metres (26,000 sq ft), with the entire Western Wall Plaza covering 20,000 square metres (4.9 acres). The new plaza created in 1967 is used for worship and public gatherings, including Bar mitzvah celebrations and the swearing-in ceremonies of newly full-fledged soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces. Tens of thousands of Jews flock to the wall on the Jewish holidays, and particularly on the fast of Tisha B'Av, which marks the destruction of the Temple and on Jerusalem Day, which commemorates the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967 and the delivery of the Wall into Jewish hands. Conflicts over prayer at the national monument began little more than a year after Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War once again made site accessible to Jews. In July 1968 the World Union for Progressive Judaism, which had planned the group's international convention in Jerusalem, appealed to the Knesset after the Ministry of Religious Affairs prohibited the organization from hosting mixed-gender services at the Wall. The Knesset committee on internal affairs backed the Ministry of Religious Affairs in disallowing the Jewish convention attendees, who had come from over 24 countries, from worshiping in their fashion. The Orthodox hold that services at the Wall should follow traditional Jewish law for segregated seating followed in synagogues, while the non-Orthodox perspective was that "the Wall is a shrine of all Jews, not one particular branch of Judaism." Robinson's Arch The remains of Robinson's Arch above excavated remnants of the ancient street below. Main article: Robinson's Arch At the southern end of the Western Wall, Robinson's Arch along with a row of vaults once supported stairs ascending from the street to the Temple Mount. Because it does not come under the direct control of the Rabbi of the Wall or the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the site has been opened to religious groups that hold worship services that would not be approved by the Rabbi or the Ministry in the major men's and women's prayer areas against the Wall. The need for such an area became apparent when in 1989, after repeated attacks by haredim, activists belonging to a group called Women of the Wall petitioned to secure the right of women to pray at the wall without restrictions. In a 2003 directive, theIsrael's Supreme Court disallowed any women from reading publicly from the Torah or wearing traditional prayer shawls at the plaza itself, but instructed the Israeli government to prepare the site of Robinson's Arch to host such events. The site was inaugurated in August 2004 and has since hosted services by Reform and Conservative groups, as well as services by the Women of the Wall. In May 2013 a judge ruled that the 2003 Israeli Supreme Court ruling prohibiting women from carrying a Torah or wearing prayer shawls had been misinterpreted and that Women of the Wall prayer gatherings at the wall should not be deemed as disturbing the public order. In November 2010, the government approved a NIS 85m ($23m) scheme to improve access and infrastructure at the site. Replica of the verse carved in the Isaiah Stone Azarat Yisrael Plaza (prayer platform), Robinson's Arch, opened August 2013 The Isaiah Stone, located under Robinson's Arch, has a carved inscription in Hebrew from Isaiah 66:14: וראיתם ושש לבכם ועצמותיכם כדשא תפרחנה ("And when ye see this your heart shall rejoice and your bones shall flourish like an herb"). In April 2013, Jewish Agency for Israel leader Natan Sharansky spearheaded a concept that would expand and renovate the Robinson's Arch area into an area where people may "perform worship rituals not based on the Orthodox interpretation of Jewish tradition." On 25 August 2013, a new 4,480 square foot prayer platform named "Azarat Yisrael Plaza" was completed as part of this plan, with access to the platform at all hours, even when the rest of the area's archeological park is closed to visitors. After some controversy regarding the question of authority over this prayer area, the announcement was made that it would come under the authority of a future government-appointed "pluralist council" that would include non-Orthodox representatives. In January 2016, the Israeli Cabinet approved a plan to designate a new space at the Kotel that would be available for egalitarian prayer and which would not be controlled by the Rabbinate. Women of the Wall welcomed the decision, although Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar of Jerusalem said creating a mixed-gender prayer section was paramount to destroying it. The Chief rabbinate said it would create an alternate plan. Wilson's Arch Torah Ark inside men's section of Wilson's Arch Main article: Wilson's Arch (Jerusalem) In 2005, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation initiated a major renovation effort under Rabbi-of-the-Wall Shmuel Rabinovitch. Its goal was to renovate and restore the area within Wilson's Arch, the covered area to the left of worshipers facing the Wall in the open prayer plaza, in order to increase access for visitors and for prayer. The restoration to the men's section included a Torah ark that can house over 100 Torah scrolls, in addition to new bookshelves, a library, heating for the winter, and air conditioning for the summer. A new room was also built for the scribes who maintain and preserve the Torah scrolls used at the Wall. New construction also included a women's section, overlooking the men's prayer area, so that women could use this separate area to "take part in the services held inside under the Arch" for the first time. On July 25, 2010, a Ner Tamid, an oil-burning "eternal light," was installed within the prayer hall within Wilson's Arch, the first eternal light installed in the area of the Western Wall. According to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, requests had been made for many years that "an olive oil lamp be placed in the prayer hall of the Western Wall Plaza, as is the custom in Jewish synagogues, to represent the menorah of the Temple in Jerusalem as well as the continuously burning fire on the altar of burnt offerings in front of the Temple," especially in the closest place to those ancient flames. Asst. U.S. Sixth Fleet Chaplain Rabbi Arnold Resnicoff leads an unusual interfaith service A number of special worship events have been held since the renovation. They have taken advantage of the cover, temperature control, and enhanced security. However, in addition to the more recent programs, one early event occurred in September 1983, even before the modern renovation. At that time U.S. Sixth Fleet Chaplain Rabbi Arnold Resnicoff was allowed to hold an unusual interfaith service—the first interfaith service ever conducted at the Wall during the time it was under Israeli control—that included men and women sitting together. The ten-minute service included the Priestly Blessing, recited by Resnicoff, who is a Kohen. A Ministry of Religions representative was present, responding to press queries that the service was authorized as part of a special welcome for the U.S. Sixth Fleet. Rabbis of the wall After the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, Rabbi Yehuda Meir Getz was named the overseer of proceedings at the wall. After Rabbi Getz's death in 1995, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz was given the position. Theology and ritual Judaism Jewish tradition teaches that the Western Wall was built by King Solomon and that the wall we see today is built upon his foundations, which date from the time of the First Temple. Jewish midrashic texts compiled in Late Antiquity refer to a western wall of the Temple which "would never be destroyed." Some scholars were of the opinion that this referred to a wall of the Temple itself which has long since vanished. Others believed that the wall still stood and was actually a surviving wall of the Temple courtyard. However, today there is no doubt that the wall is the western retaining wall of the Temple Mount and the Midrash refers to the Temple in its broader sense, that is, the Temple Mount. Jewish sources teach that when Roman Emperor Vespasian ordered the destruction of the Temple, he ordered Pangar, Duke of Arabia, to destroy the Western Wall. Pangar however could not destroy the wall because of God's promise that the Wall will never be destroyed. When asked by Titus why he did not destroy it, Pangar replied that it would stand as a reminder of what Titus had conquered. He was duly executed. There is a tradition that states that when water starts trickling through the stones of the Wall, it is a signal of the advent of the Messiah. Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Kaindenover discusses the mystical aspect of the Hebrew word kotel when discussing the significance of praying against a wall. He cites the Zohar which writes that the word kotel, meaning wall, is made up of two parts: "Ko", which has the numerical value of God’s name, and "Tel", meaning mount, which refers to the Temple and its Western Wall. Jewish sources, including the Zohar, write that the Divine Presence rests upon the Western Wall. The Midrash quotes a 4th-century scholar: "Rav Acha said that the Divine Presence has never moved away from the Western Wall". 18th-century scholar Jonathan Eybeschutz writes that "after the destruction of the Temple, God removed His Presence from His sanctuary and placed it upon the Western Wall where it remains in its holiness and honour". It is told that great Jewish sages, including Isaac Luria and the Radvaz, experienced a revelation of the Divine Presence at the wall. Sanctity of the Wall "Jews' Place of Wailing, 1844". (1860 engraving) Most Jews attach sanctity to the Wall, while others do not.[unreliable source?] Many contemporary Orthodox scholars rule that the area in front of the Wall has the status of a synagogue and must be treated with due respect. This is the view upheld by the authority in charge of the wall. As such, men and married women are expected to cover their heads upon approaching the Wall, and to dress appropriately. When departing, the custom is to walk backwards away from the Wall. On Saturdays, it is forbidden to enter the area with electronic devices, including cameras, which infringe on the sanctity of the Sabbath. Some Orthodox Jewish codifiers warn against inserting fingers into the cracks of the Wall as they believe that the breadth of the Wall constitutes part of the Temple Mount itself and retains holiness, while others who permit doing so claim that the Wall is located outside the Temple area.[non-primary source needed] In the past, some visitors would write their names on the Wall, or based upon various scriptural verses, would drive nails into the crevices. These practices stopped after rabbis determined that such actions compromised the sanctity of the Wall. Another practice also existed whereby pilgrims or those intending to travel abroad would hack off a chip from the Wall or take some of the sand from between its cracks as a good luck charm or memento. In the late 19th century the question was raised as to whether this was permitted and a long responsa appeared in the Jerusalem newspaper Havatzelet in 1898. It concluded that even if according to Jewish Law it was permitted, the practices should be stopped as it constituted a desecration. More recently the Yalkut Yosef rules that it is forbidden to remove small chips of stone or dust from the Wall, although it is permissible to take twigs from the vegetation which grows in the Wall for an amulet, as they contain no holiness. Cleaning the stones is also problematic from a halachic point of view. Blasphemous graffiti once sprayed by a tourist was left visible for months until it began to peel away. The faithful remove their shoes upon approaching the Wall, c1880 There was once an old custom of removing one's shoes upon approaching the Wall. A 17th-century collection of special prayers to be said at holy places mentions that "upon coming to the Western Wall one should remove his shoes, bow and recite...". Rabbi Moses Reicher wrote[year needed] that "it is a good and praiseworthy custom to approach the Western Wall in white garments after ablution, kneel and prostrate oneself in submission and recite "This is nothing other than the House of God and here is the gate of Heaven." When within four cubits of the Wall, one should remove their footwear." Over the years the custom of standing barefoot at the Wall has ceased, as there is no need to remove one's shoes when standing by the Wall, because the plaza area is outside the sanctified precinct of the Temple Mount. In Judaism, the Western Wall is venerated as the sole remnant of the Holy Temple. It has become a place of pilgrimage for Jews, as it is the closest permitted accessible site to the holiest spot in Judaism, namely the Even ha-shetiya or Foundation Stone, which lies on the Temple Mount. According to one rabbinic opinion, Jews may not set foot upon the Temple Mount and doing so is a sin punishable by Kareth. While almost all historians and archaeologists and some rabbinical authorities believe that the rocky outcrop in the Dome of the Rock is the Foundation Stone, some rabbis say it is located directly opposite the exposed section of the Western Wall, near the El-kas fountain. This spot was the site of the Holy of Holies when the Temple stood. Mourning the Temple's destruction Tisha B'Av at the Western Wall, 1970s. According to Jewish Law, one is obligated to grieve and rend one's garment upon visiting the Western Wall and seeing the desolate site of the Temple. Bach (17th century) instructs that "when one sees the Gates of Mercy which are situated in the Western Wall, which is the wall King David built, he should recite: Her gates are sunk into the ground; he hath destroyed and broken her bars: her king and her princes are among the nations: the law is no more; her prophets also find no vision from the Lord". Some scholars write that rending one's garments is not applicable nowadays as Jerusalem is under Jewish control. Others disagree, pointing to the fact that the Temple Mount is controlled by the Muslim waqf and that the mosques which sit upon the Temple site should increase feelings of distress. If one hasn't seen the Wall for over 30 days, the prevailing custom is to rend one's garments, but this can be avoided if one visits on the Sabbath or on festivals. According to Donneal Epstein, a person who has not seen the Wall within the last 30 days should recite: "Our Holy Temple, which was our glory, in which our forefathers praised You, was burned and all of our delights were destroyed". Prayer at the Wall Women at prayer, early 20th century The Sages of the Talmud stated that anyone who prays at the Temple in Jerusalem, "it is as if he has prayed before the throne of glory because the gate of heaven is situated there and it is open to hear prayer." Jewish Law stipulates that the Silent Prayer should be recited facing towards Jerusalem, the Temple and ultimately the Holy of Holies, as God's bounty and blessing emanates from that spot. It is generally believed that prayer by the Western Wall is particularly beneficial since it was that wall which was situated closest to the Holy of Holies. Rabbi Jacob Ettlinger writes "since the gate of heaven is near the Western Wall, it is understandable that all Israel's prayers ascend on high there... as one of the great ancient kabbalists Rabbi Joseph Gikatilla said, when the Jews send their prayers from the Diaspora in the direction of Jerusalem, from there they ascend by way of the Western Wall." A well-known segula (efficacious remedy) for finding one's soulmate is to pray for 40 consecutive days at the Western Wall, a practice apparently conceived by Rabbi Yisroel Yaakov Fisher. The Scroll of Ahimaaz, a historical document written in 1050 CE, distinctly describes the Western Wall as a place of prayer for the Jews. In around 1167 CE during the late Crusader Period, Benjamin of Tudela wrote that "In front of this place is the western wall, which is one of the walls of the Holy of Holies. This is called the Gate of Mercy, and hither come all the Jews to pray before the Wall in the open court". In 1625 "arranged prayers" at the Wall are mentioned for the first time by a scholar whose name has not been preserved. Scrolls of the Law were brought to the Wall on occasions of public distress and calamity, as testified to in a narrative written by Rabbi Gedaliah of Semitizi who went to Jerusalem in 1699. "On Friday afternoon, March 13, 1863, the writer visited this sacred spot. Here he found between one and two hundred Jews of both sexes and of all ages, standing or sitting, and bowing as they read, chanted and recited, moving themselves backward and forward, the tears rolling down many a face; they kissed the walls and wrote sentences in Hebrew upon them... The lamentation which is most commonly used is from Psalm 79:1 "O God, the heathen are come into Thy inheritance; Thy holy temple have they defiled." Rev. James W. Lee, 1863. The writings of various travellers in the Holy Land, especially in the 18th and 19th centuries, tell of how the Wall and its environs continued to be a place of devotion for the Jews. Isaac Yahuda, a prominent member of the Sephardic community in Jerusalem recalled how men and women used to gather in a circle at the Wall to hear sermons delivered in Ladino. His great-grandmother, who arrived in Palestine in 1841, "used to go to the Western Wall every Friday afternoon, winter and summer, and stay there until candle-lighting time, reading the entire Book of Psalms and the Song of Songs...she would sit there by herself for hours." In the past women could be found sitting at the entrance to the Wall every Sabbath holding fragrant herbs and spices in order to enable worshipers to make additional blessings. In the hot weather they would provide cool water. The women also used to cast lots for the privilege of sweeping and washing the alleyway at the foot of the Wall. Throughout the ages, the Wall is where Jews have gathered to express gratitude to God or to pray for divine mercy. On news of the Normandy landings on June 6, 1944 thousands of Jews went to the Wall to offer prayers for the "success of His Majesty’s and Allied Forces in the liberation of all enemy-occupied territory." On October 13, 1994, 50,000 gathered to pray for the safe return of kidnapped soldier Nachshon Wachsman. August 10, 2005 saw a massive prayer rally at the Wall. Estimates of people protesting Israel's unilateral disengagement plan ranged from 50,000 to 250,000 people. Every year on Tisha B'Av large crowds congregate at the Wall to commemorate the destruction of the Temple. In 2007 over 100,000 gathered. During the month of Tishrei 2009, a record 1.5 million people visited the site. Egalitarian and non-Orthodox prayer The separate areas for men (top) and women, seen from the walkway to the Dome of the Rock While during the late 19th century, no formal segregation of men and women was to be found at the Wall, conflict erupted in July 1968 when members of the World Union for Progressive Judaism were denied the right to host a mixed-gender service at the site after the Ministry of Religious Affairs insisted on maintaining the gender segregation customary at Orthodox places of worship. The progressives responded by claiming that "the Wall is a shrine of all Jews, not one particular branch of Judaism." In 1988, the small but vocal Women of the Wall launched a campaign for recognition of non-Orthodox prayer at the Wall. Their form and manner of prayer elicited a violent response from some Orthodox worshippers and they were subsequently banned from holding services at the site. In response to the repeated arrest of women, including Anat Hoffman found flouting the law, the Jewish Agency observed 'the urgent need to reach a permanent solution and make the Western Wall once again a symbol of unity among the Jewish people, and not one of discord and strife." Some commentators called for the closure of the site unless an acceptable solution to the controversy was found. In 2003 Israel's Supreme Court upheld the ban on non-Orthodox worship at the Wall and the government responded by allocating Robinson's Arch for such purposes. But in 2012, critics still complained about the restrictions at the Western Wall, saying Israel had "turned a national monument into an ultra-Orthodox synagogue," and in April 2013 the Jerusalem District Court ruled that as long as there was no other appropriate area for pluralistic prayer, prayer according to non-Orthodox custom should be allowed at the Wall. This led to the expansion and renovation of the Robinson's Arch prayer area which would be placed under the authority of a Pluralist Council. In August 2013, a platform named "Azarat Yisrael Plaza" was completed to facilitate non-Orthodox worship. Prayer notes Main article: Placing notes in the Western Wall Slips of paper containing prayers in the cracks of the Wall There is a much publicised practice of placing slips of paper containing written prayers into the crevices of the Wall. The earliest account of this practice is attributed to Rabbi Chaim ibn Attar, (d. 1743). More than a million notes are placed each year and the opportunity to e-mail notes is offered by a number of organisations. It has become customary for visiting dignitaries to place notes too. Islam South-West corner of the Haram (Wilson, 1865) Islamic reverence for the site is derived from the belief that the prophet Mohammed tied his miraculous steed Buraq nearby during his night journey to Jerusalem. Various places have been suggested for the exact spot where Buraq was tethered, but for several centuries the preferred location has been the al-Buraq mosque, which is just inside the wall at the south end of the present Western Wall plaza. The mosque is located above an ancient passageway, which once came out through the long-sealed Barclay's Gate whose huge lintel is still visible directly below the Maghrebi gate. When a British Jew asked the Egyptian authorities in 1840 for permission to re-pave the ground in front of the Western Wall, the governor of Syria wrote: It is evident from the copy of the record of the deliberations of the Consultative Council in Jerusalem that the place the Jews asked for permission to pave adjoins the wall of the Haram al-Sharif and also the spot where al-Buraq was tethered, and is included in the endowment charter of Abu Madyan, may God bless his memory; that the Jews never carried out any repairs in that place in the past. ... Therefore the Jews must not be enabled to pave the place. Carl Sandreczki, who was charged with compiling a list of place names for Charles Wilson's Ordnance Survey of Jerusalem in 1865, reported that the street leading to the Western Wall, including the part alongside the wall, belonged to the Hosh (court/enclosure) of al Burâk, "not Obrâk, nor Obrat". In 1866, the Prussian Consul and Orientalist Georg Rosen wrote that "The Arabs call Obrâk the entire length of the wall at the wailing place of the Jews, southwards down to the house of Abu Su'ud and northwards up to the substructure of the Mechkemeh [Shariah court]. Obrâk is not, as was formerly claimed, a corruption of the word Ibri (Hebrews), but simply the neo-Arabic pronunciation of Bōrâk, ... which, whilst (Muhammad) was at prayer at the holy rock, is said to have been tethered by him inside the wall location mentioned above." The name Hosh al Buraq appeared on the maps of Wilson's 1865 survey, its revised editions of 1876 and 1900, and other maps in the early 20th century. In 1922, it was the street name specified by the official Pro-Jerusalem Council. Christianity Pope Francis at the Western Wall Some scholars believe that when Jerusalem came under Christian rule in the 4th century, there was a purposeful "transference" of respect for the Temple Mount and the Western Wall in terms of sanctity to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, while the sites around the Temple Mount became a refuse dump for Christians. However, the actions of many modern Christian leaders, including Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, who visited the Wall and left prayer messages in its crevices, have symbolized for many Christians a restoration of respect and even veneration for this ancient religious site. Views Jewish A Jew praying at the Western Wall Most Jews, religious and secular, consider the wall to be important to the Jewish people since it was originally built to hold the Second Temple. They consider the capture of the wall by Israel in 1967 as a historic event since it restored Jewish access to the site after a 19-year gap. There are, however, some haredi Jews who hold opposing views. Most notable are the adherents of the Satmar hasidic dynasty who retain the views espoused by their Grand Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, who would not approach the Wall after the 1967 conquest, although he did visit the site during his visits to the Holy Land in the 1920s. In 1994, Shlomo Goren wrote that the tradition of the wall as a Jewish prayer site was only 300 years old, the Jews being compelled to pray there after being forbidden from assembling on the mount itself. Israeli A poll carried out in 2007 by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies indicated that 96% of Israeli Jews were against Israel relinquishing the Western Wall. During a speech at Israel's Mercaz HaRav yeshivah on Jerusalem Day in 2009, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu declared: "The flag that flies over the Kotel is the Israeli flag... Our holy places, the Temple Mount – will remain under Israeli sovereignty forever." Muslim Western Wall and Dome of the Rock. In December 1973, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia stated that "Only Muslims and Christians have holy places and rights in Jerusalem". The Jews, he maintained, had no rights there at all. As for the Western Wall, he said, "Another wall can be built for them. They can pray against that". Raed Salah, leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel wrote that: "The Western Wall – all its various parts, structures and gates – are an inseparable part of the al-Aqsa compound...The Western Wall is part of Al-Aqsa's western tower, which the Israeli establishment fallaciously and sneakily calls the 'Wailing Wall'. The wall is part of the holy al-Aqsa Mosque". ***** The Temple Mount (Hebrew: הַר הַבַּיִת, Har HaBáyit, "Mount of the House [of God, i.e. the Temple]"), known to Muslims as the Haram esh-Sharif (Arabic: الحرم الشريف, al-Ḥaram al-Šarīf, "the Noble Sanctuary", or الحرم القدسي الشريف, al-Ḥaram al-Qudsī al-Šarīf, "the Noble Sanctuary of Jerusalem"), a hill located in the Old City of Jerusalem, is one of the most important religious sites in the world. It has been venerated as a holy site for thousands of years by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The present site is dominated by three monumental structures from the early Umayyad period: the al-Aqsa Mosque, the Dome of the Rock and the Dome of the Chain, as well as four minarets. Herodian walls and gates with additions dating back to the late Byzantine and early Islamic periods cut through the flanks of the Mount. Currently it can be reached through eleven gates, ten reserved for Muslims and one for non-Muslims, with guard posts of Israeli police in the vicinity of each. The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism, which regards it as the place where God's divine presence is manifested more than in any other place. According to the rabbinic sages whose debates produced the Talmud, it was from here the world expanded into its present form and where God gathered the dust used to create the first human, Adam. Since at least the first century CE, the site has been associated in Judaism with Mount Moriah (Hebrew: הַר הַמוריה, Har HaMōriyā); Mount Moriah is the name given by the Hebrew Bible to the location of Abraham's binding of Isaac,this identification being perpetuated by Jewish and Christian tradition. Several passages in the Hebrew Bible indicate that during the time when they were written, the Temple Mount was identified as Mount Zion. The Mount Zion mentioned in the later parts of the Book of Isaiah (Isaiah 60:14), in the Book of Psalms, and the First Book of Maccabees (c. 2nd century BCE) seems to refer to the top of the hill, generally known as the Temple Mount. According to the Book of Samuel, Mount Zion was the site of the Jebusite fortress called the "stronghold of Zion", but once the First Temple was erected, according to the Bible, at the top of the Eastern Hill ("Temple Mount"), the name "Mount Zion" migrated there too. The name later migrated for a last time, this time to Jerusalem's Western Hill. According to the Bible, both Jewish Temples stood at the Temple Mount, though archaeological evidence only exists for the Second Temple. However, the identification of Solomon's Temple with the area of the Temple Mount is widespread. According to the Bible the site should function as the center of all national life—a governmental, judicial and religious center. During the Second Temple period it functioned also as an economic center. According to Jewish tradition and scripture, the First Temple was built by King Solomon the son of King David in 957 BCE and destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. The second was constructed under the auspices of Zerubbabel in 516 BCE and destroyed by the Roman Empire in 70 CE. In the 2nd century, the site was used for a temple to Jupiter Capitolinus. It was redeveloped following the Arab conquest. Jewish tradition maintains it is here a Third and final Temple will also be built. The location is the holiest site in Judaism and is the place Jews turn towards during prayer. Due to its extreme sanctity, many Jews will not walk on the Mount itself, to avoid unintentionally entering the area where the Holy of Holies stood, since according to Rabbinical law, some aspect of the divine presence is still present at the site. It was from the Holy of Holies that the High Priest communicated directly with God. The Temple was of central importance in Jewish worship, in the Tanakh and the Christian Old Testament. In the New Testament it remains the site of several events in the life of Jesus, and Christian loyalty to it as a focal point remained long after his death. After the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, which came to be regarded by early Christians, as it was by Josephus and the sages of the Jerusalem Talmud, to be a divine act of punishment for the sins of the Jewish people, the Temple Mount lost its significance for Christian worship with the Christians considering it a fulfillment of Christ's prophecy at, for example, Matthew 23:28 and 24:2. It was to this end, proof of a biblical prophecy fulfilled and of Christianity's victory over Judaism with the New Covenant, that early Christian pilgrims also visited the site.Byzantine Christians, despite some signs of constructive work on the esplanade, generally neglected the Temple Mount, especially when a Jewish attempt to rebuild the Temple was destroyed by the earthquake in 363. and it became a desolate local rubbish dump, perhaps outside the city limits, as Christian worship in Jerusalem shifted to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and Jerusalem's centrality was replaced by Rome. Almost immediately after the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem in 638 CE, Caliph 'Omar ibn al Khatab, disgusted by the filth covering the site, had it thoroughly cleaned, and granted Jews access to the site. Among Sunni Muslims, the Mount is widely considered the third holiest site in Islam. Revered as the Noble Sanctuary, the location of Muhammad's journey to Jerusalem and ascent to heaven, the site is also associated with Jewish biblical prophets who are also venerated in Islam. Muslims preferred to the esplanade as the heart for the Muslim quarter since it had been abandoned by Christians, to avoid disturbing the Christian quarters of Jerusalem. Umayyad Caliphs commissioned the construction of the al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock on the site. The Dome was completed in 692 CE, making it one of the oldest extant Islamic structures in the world. The Al Aqsa Mosque rests on the far southern side of the Mount, facing Mecca. The Dome of the Rock currently sits in the middle, occupying or close to the area where the Holy Temple previously stood. In light of the dual claims of both Judaism and Islam, it is one of the most contested religious sites in the world. Since the Crusades, the Muslim community of Jerusalem has managed the site as a Waqf, without interruption. As the site is part of the Old City, controlled by Israel since 1967, both Israel and the Palestinian Authority claim sovereignty over it, and it remains a major focal point of the Arab–Israeli conflict. In an attempt to keep the status quo, the Israeli government enforces a controversial ban on prayer by non-Muslims. Contents [hide] 1 Location and dimensions 2 History 2.1 Israelite period 2.2 Persian, Hasmonean and Herodian periods 2.3 Middle Roman period 2.4 Late Roman period 2.5 Byzantine period 2.6 Sassanid period 2.7 Early Muslim period 2.8 Crusader and Ayyubid period 2.9 Mamluk period 2.10 Ottoman period 2.11 British Mandatory period 2.12 Jordanian period 2.13 Israeli period 3 Status quo 3.1 Under Israeli control 4 Management and access 5 Current features 5.1 Dome of the Rock platform 5.2 Lower platform 5.3 Gates 5.4 Solomon's Stables/Marwani Mosque 5.5 Minarets 6 Alterations to antiquities and damage to existing structures 7 Religious attitudes 7.1 In Judaism 7.1.1 Jewish religious law concerning entry to the site 7.1.2 Opinions of contemporary rabbis concerning entry to the site 7.2 In Islam 7.3 In Christianity 8 Recent events 9 Panorama 10 See also 11 References 12 Bibliography 13 External links Location and dimensions The Holyland Model of Jerusalem in the late Second Temple period. The large flat expanse was a base for Herod's Temple, in the center. The view is from outside the Eastern Wall of the Temple Mount. The Temple Mount forms the northern portion of a very narrow spur of hill that slopes sharply downward from north to south. Rising above the Kidron Valley to the east and Tyropoeon Valley to the west, its peak reaches a height of 740 m (2,428 ft) above sea level. In around 19 BCE, Herod the Great extended the Mount's natural plateau by enclosing the area with four massive retaining walls and filling the voids. This artificial expansion resulted in a large flat expanse which today forms the eastern section of the Old City of Jerusalem. The trapezium shaped platform measures 488 m along the west, 470 m along the east, 315 m along the north and 280 m along the south, giving a total area of approximately 150,000 m2 (37 acres). The northern wall of the Mount, together with the northern section of the western wall, is hidden behind residential buildings. The southern section of the western flank is revealed and contains what is known as the Western Wall. The retaining walls on these two sides descend many meters below ground level. A northern portion of the western wall may be seen from within the Western Wall Tunnel, which was excavated through buildings adjacent to the platform. On the southern and eastern sides the walls are visible almost to their full height. The platform itself is separated from the rest of the Old City by the Tyropoeon Valley, though this once deep valley is now largely hidden beneath later deposits, and is imperceptible in places. The platform can be reached via Gate of the Chain Street – a street in the Muslim Quarter at the level of the platform, actually sitting on a monumental bridge;[better source needed] the bridge is no longer externally visible due to the change in ground level, but it can be seen from beneath via the Western Wall Tunnel.  History Main article: Archaeological remnants of the Jerusalem Temple Israelite period The hill is believed to have been inhabited since the 4th millennium BCE. Assuming colocation with the biblical Mount Zion, its southern section would have been walled at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE, in around 1850 BCE, by Canaanites who established a settlement there (or in the vicinity) named Jebus. Jewish tradition identifies it with Mount Moriah where the binding of Isaac took place. According to the Hebrew Bible, the Temple Mount was originally a threshing-floor owned by Araunah, a Jebusite. The prophet Gad suggested the area to King David as a fitting place for the erection of an altar to YHWH, since a destroying angel was standing there when God stopped a great plague in Jerusalem. David then bought the property from Araunah, for fifty pieces of silver, and erected the altar. YHWH instructed David to build a sanctuary on the site, outside the city walls on the northern edge of the hill. The building was to replace the Tabernacle, and serve as the Temple of the Israelites in Jerusalem. The Temple Mount is an important part of Biblical archaeology. Persian, Hasmonean and Herodian periods Main article: Archaeological remnants of the Jerusalem Temple The Trumpeting Place inscription, a stone (2.43x1 m) with Hebrew inscription לבית התקיעה להב "To the Trumpeting Place" excavated by Benjamin Mazar at the southern foot of the Temple Mount is believed to be a part of the Second Temple. Much of the Mount's early history is synonymous with events pertaining to the Temple itself. After the destruction of Solomon's Temple by Nebuchadnezzar II, construction of the Second Temple began under Cyrus in around 538 BCE, and was completed in 516 BCE. Evidence of a Hasmonean expansion of the Temple Mount has been recovered by archaeologist Leen Ritmeyer. Around 19 BCE, Herod the Great further expanded the Mount and rebuilt the temple. The ambitious project, which involved the employment of 10,000 workers, more than doubled the size of the Temple Mount to approximately 36 acres (150,000 m2). Herod leveled the area by cutting away rock on the northwest side and raising the sloping ground to the south. He achieved this by constructing huge buttress walls and vaults, and filling the necessary sections with earth and rubble. A basilica, called by Josephus "the Royal Stoa", was constructed on the southern end of the expanded platform, which provided a focus for the city's commercial and legal transactions, and which was provided with separate access to the city below via the Robinson's Arch overpass. In addition to restoration of the Temple, its courtyards and porticoes, Herod also built the Antonia Fortress, abutting the northwestern corner of the Temple Mount, and a rainwater reservoir, Birket Israel, in the northeast. As a result of the First Jewish–Roman War, the fortress was destroyed in 70 CE by Titus, the army commander and son of Roman emperor Vespasian. Middle Roman period Stones from the walls of the Temple Mount The city of Aelia Capitolina was built in 130 CE by the Roman emperor Hadrian, and occupied by a Roman colony on the site of Jerusalem, which was still in ruins from the First Jewish Revolt in 70 CE. Aelia came from Hadrian's nomen gentile, Aelius, while Capitolina meant that the new city was dedicated to Jupiter Capitolinus, to whom a temple was built on the site of the former second Jewish temple, the Temple Mount. Hadrian had intended the construction of the new city as a gift to the Jews, but since he had constructed a giant statue of himself in front of the Temple of Jupiter and the Temple of Jupiter had a huge statue of Jupiter inside of it, there were on the Temple Mount now two enormous graven images, which Jews considered idolatrous. It was also customary in Roman rites to sacrifice a pig in land purification ceremonies. In addition to this, Hadrian issued a decree prohibiting the practice of circumcision. These three factors, the graven images, the sacrifice of pigs before the altar, and the prohibition of circumcision, are thought to have constituted for non-Hellenized Jews a new abomination of desolation, and thus Bar Kochba launched the Third Jewish Revolt. After the Third Jewish Revolt failed, all Jews were forbidden on pain of death from entering the city or the surrounding territory around the city. Late Roman period From the 1st through the 7th centuries Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire, gradually became the predominant religion of Palestine and under the Byzantines Jerusalem itself was almost completely Christian, with most of the population being Jacobite Christians of the Syrian rite. Emperor Constantine I promoted the Christianization of Roman society, giving it precedence over pagan cults. One consequence was that Hadrian's Temple to Jupiter on the Temple Mount was demolished immediately following the First Council of Nicea in 325 CE on orders of Constantine. The Bordaeux Pilgrim, who visited Jerusalem in 333–334, during the reign of Emperor Constantine I, wrote that "There are two statues of Hadrian, and, not far from them, a pierced stone to which the Jews come every year and anoint. They mourn and rend their garments, and then depart." The occasion is assumed to have been Tisha b'Av, since decades later Jerome related that that was the only day on which Jews were permitted to enter Jerusalem. Constantine's nephew Emperor Julian granted permission in the year 363 for the Jews to rebuild the Temple. In a letter attributed to Julian he wrote to the Jews that "This you ought to do, in order that, when I have successfully concluded the war in Persia, I may rebuild by my own efforts the sacred city of Jerusalem, which for so many years you have longed to see inhabited, and may bring settlers there, and, together with you, may glorify the Most High God therein." Julian saw the Jewish God as a fitting member of the pantheon of gods he believed in, and he was also a strong opponent of Christianity. Church historians wrote that the Jews began to clear away the structures and rubble on the Temple Mount but were thwarted, first by a great earthquake, and then by miracles that included fire springing from the earth. However, no contemporary Jewish sources mention this episode directly. Byzantine period Archaeological evidence in the form of an elaborate mosaic floor similar to the one in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and multiple fragments of an elaborate marble Templon (chancel screen) prove that an elaborate Byzantine church or monastery or other public building stood on the Temple Mount in Byzantine times. Sassanid period See also: Jewish revolt against Heraclius and Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628 In 610, the Sassanid Empire drove the Byzantine Empire out of the Middle East, giving the Jews control of Jerusalem for the first time in centuries. The Jews in Palestine were allowed to set up a vassal state under the Sassanid Empire called the Sassanid Jewish Commonwealth which lasted for five years. Jewish rabbis ordered the restart of animal sacrifice for the first time since the time of Second Temple and started to reconstruct the Jewish Temple. Shortly before the Byzantines took the area back five years later in 615, the Persians gave control to the Christian population, who tore down the partially built Jewish Temple edifice and turned it into a garbage dump, which is what it was when the Rashidun Caliph Umar took the city in 637. Early Muslim period Southwest qanatir of the Haram al Sharif A model of the Haram-al-Sharif made in 1879 by Conrad Schick. The model can be seen in the Bijbels Museum in Amsterdam In 637 Arabs besieged and captured the city from the Byzantine Empire, which had defeated the Persian forces and their allies, and reconquered the city. There are no contemporary records, but many traditions, about the origin of the main Islamic buildings on the mount. A popular account from later centuries is that the Rashidun Caliph Umar was led to the place reluctantly by the Christian patriarch Sophronius. He found it covered with rubbish, but the sacred Rock was found with the help of a converted Jew, Ka'b al-Ahbar. Al-Ahbar advised Umar to build a mosque to the north of the rock, so that worshippers would face both the rock and Mecca, but instead Umar chose to build it to the south of the rock. It became known as the Al-Aqsa Mosque. According to Muslim sources, Jews participated in the construction of the haram, laying the groundwork for both the Al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock mosques.The first known eyewitness testimony is that of the pilgrim Arculf who visited about 670. According to Arculf's account as recorded by Adomnán, he saw a rectangular wooden house of prayer built over some ruins, large enough to hold 3,000 people. In 691 an octagonal Islamic building topped by a dome was built by the Caliph Abd al-Malik around the rock, for a myriad of political, dynastic and religious reasons, built on local and Quranic traditions articulating the site's holiness, a process in which textual and architectural narratives reinforced one another. The shrine became known as the Dome of the Rock (قبة الصخرة, Qubbat as-Sakhra). (The dome itself was covered in gold in 1920.) In 715 the Umayyads, led by the Caliph al-Walid I, transformed the temple shops Chanuyot nearby into a mosque (see illustrations  and detailed drawing ), which they named the Aqsa Mosque (المسجد الأقصى, al-Masjid al-Aqsa, lit. "Furthest Mosque"), corresponding to the Islamic belief of Muhammad's miraculous nocturnal journey as recounted in the Quran and hadith. The term "Noble Sanctuary" or "Haram al-Sharif", as it was called later by the Mamluks and Ottomans, refers to the whole area that surrounds that Rock. For Muslims, the importance of the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque makes Jerusalem the third-holiest city, after Mecca and Medina. The mosque and shrine are currently administered by a Waqf (an Islamic trust). The various inscriptions on the Dome walls and the artistic decorations imply a symbolic eschatological significance of the structure. Crusader and Ayyubid period The Crusader period began in 1099 with the First Crusade's capture of Jerusalem. After the city's conquest, the Crusading order Knights Templar was granted use of the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount by Baldwin II of Jerusalem and Warmund, Patriarch of Jerusalem, probably at the Council of Nablus in January 1120, giving the Templars a headquarters in the captured Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Temple Mount had a mystique because it was above what were believed to be the ruins of the Temple of Solomon. The Crusaders therefore referred to the Al Aqsa Mosque as Solomon's Temple, and it was from this location that the new Order took the name of Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon, or "Templar" knights. In 1187, once he retook Jerusalem, Saladin removed all traces of Christian worship from the Temple Mount, returning the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque to their original purposes. Even during the relatively short periods of diplomatically-won Crusader rule after that date, the Temple Mount remained in Muslim hands. Mamluk period There are several Mamluk buildings on and around the Haram esplanade. The Mamluks also raised the level of Jerusalem's Central or Tyropoean Valey bordering the Temple Mount from the west by constructing huge substructures, on which they then built on a large scale. The Mamluk-period substructures and over-ground buildings are thus covering much of the Herodian western wall of the Temple Mount. Ottoman period Following the Ottoman conquest of Palestine in 1516, the Ottoman authorities continued the policy of prohibiting non-Muslims from setting foot on the Temple Mount until the early 19th century, when non-Muslims were again permitted to visit the site. In 1867, a team from the Royal Engineers, led by Lieutenant Charles Warren and financed by the Palestine Exploration Fund (P.E.F.), discovered a series of underground tunnels near the Temple Mount. Warren secretly excavated some tunnels near the Temple Mount walls and was the first one to document their lower courses. Warren also conducted some small scale excavations inside the Temple Mount, by removing rubble that blocked passages leading from the Double Gate chamber. British Mandatory period Main article: 1929 Palestine riots Between 1922 and 1924, the Dome of the Rock was restored by the Islamic Higher Council. Jordanian period Jordan undertook two renovations of the Dome of the Rock, replacing the leaking, wooden inner dome with an aluminum dome in 1952, and, when the new dome leaked, carrying out a second restoration between 1959 and 1964. Neither Israeli Arabs nor Israeli Jews could visit their holy places in the Jordanian territories during this period. Israeli period On 7 June 1967, during the Six-Day War, Israeli forces advanced beyond the 1949 Armistice Agreement Line into West Bank territories, taking control of the Old City of Jerusalem, inclusive of the Temple Mount. The Chief Rabbi of the Israeli Defense Forces, Shlomo Goren, led the soldiers in religious celebrations on the Temple Mount and at the Western Wall. The Israeli Chief Rabbinate also declared a religious holiday on the anniversary, called "Yom Yerushalayim" (Jerusalem Day), which became a national holiday to commemorate the reunification of Jerusalem. Many saw the capture of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount as a miraculous liberation of biblical-messianic proportions. A few days after the war was over 200,000 Jews flocked to the Western Wall in the first mass Jewish pilgrimage near the Mount since the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. Islamic authorities did not disturb Goren when he went to pray on the Mount until, on the Ninth Day of Av, he brought 50 followers and introduced both a shofar, and a portable ark to pray, an innovation which alarmed the Waqf authorities and led to a deterioration of relations between the Muslim authorities and the Israeli government. The then Prime Minister of Israel, Levi Eshkol, gave control of access to the Temple Mount to the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf. The site has since been a flash-point between Israel and local Muslims. In June 1969 an Australian tried to set fire to Al-Aqsa; on April 11, 1982 a Jew hid in the Dome of the Rock and sprayed gunfire, killing 2 Palestinians and wounding 44; in 1974, 1977 and 1983 groups led by Yoel Lerner conspired to blow up both the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa; on 26 January 1984 Waqf guards detected members of B'nei Yehuda, a messianic cult of former gangsters turned mystics based in Lifta, trying to infiltrate the area to blow it up. On October 8, 1990, Israeli forces patrolling the site blocked worshipers from accessing it. A tear gas canister was detonated among the female worshipers, which caused events to escalate. On 12 October 1990 Palestinian Muslims protested violently the intention of some extremist Jews to lay a cornerstone on the site for a New Temple as a prelude to the destruction of the Muslim mosques. The attempt was blocked by Israeli authorities but demonstrators were widely reported as having stoned Jews at the Western Wall. According to Palestinian historian Rashid Khalidi, investigative journalism has shown this allegation to be false. Rocks were eventually thrown, while security forces fired rounds that ended up killing 21 people and injuring 150 more. An Israeli inquiry found Israeli forces at fault, but it also concluded that charges could not be brought against any particular individuals. In December 1997, Israeli security services preempted an attempt by Jewish extremists to throw a pig's head wrapped in the pages of the Quran into the area, in order to spark a riot and embarrass the government. Between 1992 and 1994, the Jordanian government undertook the unprecedented step of gilding the dome of the Dome of the Rock, covering it with 5000 gold plates, and restoring and reinforcing the structure. The Salah Eddin minbar was also restored. The project was paid for by King Hussein personally, at a cost of $8 million.The Temple Mount remains, under the terms of the 1994 Israel–Jordan peace treaty, under Jordanian custodianship. On September 28, 2000, Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount. He toured the site, together with a Likud party delegation and a large number of Israeli riot police. The visit was seen as a provocative gesture by many Palestinians, who gathered around the site. Demonstrations quickly turned violent, with rubber bullets and tear gas being used. This event is often cited as one of the catalysts of the Second Palestinian Intifada. Evidence reveals, however, that one month earlier, Palestinian Authority Justice Minister Freih Abu Middein warned that: "Violence is near and the Palestinian people are willing to sacrifice even 5,000 casualties." A few weeks before the outbreak, the official PA publication, Al-Sabah, declared: "The time for the Intifada has arrived... the time for jihad has arrived." Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti would later admit that the Intifada was planned and Sharon merely "provided a good excuse" for the violence. Status quo Since 1757 a status quo has been applied for the ruling of the Holy places in Jerusalem. The situation between Jews and Muslims was confirmed in 1919 and Faisal–Weizmann Agreement concluded that: Article V. No regulation nor law shall be made prohibiting or interfering with the free exercise of religion; (...) Article VI. The Mohammedan Holy Places shall be under Mohammedan control. In 1929 tensions around the Western Wall in which Jews were accused of violating the status quo generated riots during which 133 Jews and 110 Arabs were killed. Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the status quo was not respected any more after Jordan took control of the Old City of Jerusalem and Jews were prohibited from visiting their Holy Places in the city. Under Israeli control A few days after the Six-Day War, on June 17, 1967, a meeting was held at al-Aqsa between Moshe Dayan and Muslim religious authorities of Jerusalem reformulating the status quo. Jews were given the right to visit the Temple Mount unobstructed and free of charge if they respected Muslims' religious feelings and acted decently, but they were not allowed to pray. The Western Wall was to remain the Jewish place of prayer. 'Religious sovereignty' was to remain with the Muslims while 'overall sovereignty' became Israeli. Dayan's offer was objected to by the Muslims, as they totally rejected the Israeli conquest of Jerusalem and the Mount. Some Jews, led by Shlomo Goren, then the military chief rabbi, had objected as well, claiming the decision handed over the complex to the Muslims, since the Western Wall's holiness is derived from the Mount and symbolizes exile, while praying on the Mount symbolizes freedom and the return of the Jewish people to their homeland. The President of the High Court of Justice, Aharon Barak, in response to an appeal in 1976 against police interference with an individual's putative right to prayer on the site, expressed the view that, while Jews had a right to prayer there, it was not absolute but subject to the public interest and the rights of other groups. Israel's courts have considered the issue as one beyond their remit, and, given the delicacy of the matter, under political jurisdiction. He wrote: The basic principle is that every Jew has the right to enter the Temple Mount, to pray there, and to have communion with his maker. This is part of the religious freedom of worship, it is part of the freedom of expression. However, as with every human right, it is not absolute, but a relative right... Indeed, in a case where there is near certainty that injury may be caused to the public interest if a person's rights of religious worship and freedom of expression would be realized, it is possible to limit the rights of the person in order to uphold the public interest. Police continued to forbid Jews to pray on the Temple Mount. Subsequently, several prime ministers also made attempts to change the status quo, but failed to do so. In October 1986, an agreement between the Temple Mount Faithful, the Supreme Muslim Council and police, which would allow short visits in small groups, was exercised once and never repeated, after 2,000 Muslims armed with stones and bottles attacked the group and stoned worshipers at the Western Wall. During the 1990s, additional attempts were made for Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, which were stopped by Israeli police. Until 2000, non-Muslim visitors could enter the Dome of the Rock, al-Aqsa Mosque and the Islamic Museum by getting a ticket from the Waqf. That procedure ended when the Second Intifada erupted. Fifteen years later, negotiation between Israel and Jordan might result in reopening of those sites once again. In the 2010s, fear arose among Palestinians that Israel planned to change the status quo and permit Jewish prayers or that the al-Aqsa mosque might be damaged or destroyed by Israel. Al-Aqsa was used as a base for attacks on visitors and the police from which stones, firebombs and fireworks were thrown. The Israeli police had never entered al-Aqsa Mosque until November 5, 2014, when dialog with the leaders of the Waqf and the rioters failed. This resulted in imposing strict limitations on entry of visitors to the Temple Mount. Israeli leadership repeatedly stated that the status quo would not change. According to then Jerusalem police commissioner Yohanan Danino, the place is at the center of a "holy war" and "anyone who wants to change the status quo on the Temple Mount should not be allowed up there", citing an "extreme right-wing agenda to change the status quo on the Temple Mount"; Hamas and Islamic Jihad continue to erroneously assert that the Israeli government plans to destroy Al-Aksa Mosque, resulting in chronic terrorist attacks and rioting. There have been several changes to the status quo: (1) Jewish visits are often prevented or considerably restricted. (2) Jews and other non-Islamic visitors can only visit from Sunday to Thursday, for four hours each day. (3) Visits inside the mosques are not allowed. (4) Jews with religious appearance must visit in groups monitored by Waqf guards and policemen. Many Palestinians believe the status quo is threatened since right-wing Israelis have been challenging it with more force and frequency, asserting a religious right to pray there. Until Israel banned them, members of Murabitat, a group of women, cried 'Allah Akbar' at groups of Jewish visitors to remind them the Temple Mount was still in Muslim hands. Management and access See also: Temple Mount entry restrictions Sign in Hebrew and English outside the Temple Mount stating the Chief Rabbinate's preference that no person should enter the site, since it is the holiest site in Judaism An Islamic Waqf has managed the Temple Mount continuously since the Muslim reconquest of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1187. On June 7, 1967, soon after Israel had taken control of the area during the Six-Day War, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol assured that "no harm whatsoever shall come to the places sacred to all religions". Together with the extension of Israeli jurisdiction and administration over east Jerusalem, the Knesset passed the Preservation of the Holy Places Law, ensuring protection of the Holy Places against desecration, as well as freedom of access thereto. The site remains within the area controlled by the State of Israel, with administration of the site remaining in the hands of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf. Although freedom of access was enshrined in the law, as a security measure, the Israeli government currently enforces a ban on non-Muslim prayer on the site. Non-Muslims who are observed praying on the site are subject to expulsion by the police.At various times, when there is fear of Arab rioting upon the mount resulting in throwing stones from above towards the Western Wall Plaza, Israel has prevented Muslim men under 45 from praying in the compound, citing these concerns. Sometimes such restrictions have coincided with Friday prayers during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Normally, West Bank Palestinians are allowed access to Jerusalem only during Islamic holidays, with access usually restricted to men over 35 and women of any age eligible for permits to enter the city. Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, which because of Israel's annexation of Jerusalem, hold Israeli permanent residency cards, and Israeli Arabs, are permitted unrestricted access to the Temple Mount. Current features Dome of the Rock platform A flat platform was built around the peak of the Temple Mount, carrying the Dome of the Rock; the peak just breaches the floor level of the upper platform within the Dome of the Rock, in the shape of a large limestone outcrop, which is part of the bedrock. Beneath the surface of this rock there is a cave known as the Well of Souls, originally accessible only by a narrow hole in the rock itself; the Crusaders hacked open an entrance to the cave from the south, by which it can now be entered. There is also a smaller domed building on the upper platform, slightly to the east of the Dome of the Rock, known as the Dome of the Chain — traditionally the location where a chain once rose to heaven. Several stairways rise to the upper platform from the lower; that at the northwest corner is believed by some archaeologists be part of a much wider monumental staircase, mostly hidden or destroyed, and dating from the Second Temple era. Lower platform The al-Kas ablution fountain for Muslim worshipers on the southern portion of the lower platform. The lower platform – which constitutes most of the surface of the Temple Mount – has at its southern end the al-Aqsa Mosque, which takes up most of the width of the Mount. Gardens take up the eastern and most of the northern side of the platform; the far north of the platform houses an Islamic school. The lower platform also houses an ablution fountain (known as al-Kas), originally supplied with water via a long narrow aqueduct leading from the so-called Solomon's Pools pools near Bethlehem, but now supplied from Jerusalem's water mains. There are several cisterns beneath the lower platform, designed to collect rain water as a water supply. These have various forms and structures, seemingly built in different periods, ranging from vaulted chambers built in the gap between the bedrock and the platform, to chambers cut into the bedrock itself. Of these, the most notable are (numbering traditionally follows Wilson's scheme): Cistern 1 (located under the northern side of the upper platform). There is a speculation that it had a function connected with the altar of the Second Temple (and possibly of the earlier Temple), or with the bronze sea. Cistern 5 (located under the south eastern corner of the upper platform) — a long and narrow chamber, with a strange anti-clockwise curved section at its north western corner, and containing within it a doorway currently blocked by earth. The cistern's position and design is such that there has been speculation it had a function connected with the altar of the Second Temple (and possibly of the earlier Temple), or with the bronze sea. Charles Warren thought that the altar of burnt offerings was located at the north western end. Cistern 8 (located just north of the al-Aqsa Mosque) — known as the Great Sea, a large rock hewn cavern, the roof supported by pillars carved from the rock; the chamber is particularly cave-like and atmospheric, and its maximum water capacity is several hundred thousand gallons. Cistern 9 (located just south of cistern 8, and directly under the al-Aqsa Mosque) — known as the Well of the Leaf due to its leaf-shaped plan, also rock hewn. Cistern 11 (located east of cistern 9) — a set of vaulted rooms forming a plan shaped like the letter E. Probably the largest cistern, it has the potential to house over 700,000 gallons of water. Cistern 16/17 (located at the centre of the far northern end of the Temple Mount). Despite the currently narrow entrances, this cistern (17 and 16 are the same cistern) is a large vaulted chamber, which Warren described as looking like the inside of the cathedral at Cordoba (which was previously a mosque). Warren believed that it was almost certainly built for some other purpose, and was only adapted into a cistern at a later date; he suggested that it might have been part of a general vault supporting the northern side of the platform, in which case substantially more of the chamber exists than is used for a cistern. Gates Main article: Gates of the Temple Mount The eastern set of Hulda gates. Robinson's Arch, situated on the southwestern flank, once supported a staircase that led to the Mount. Sealed gates The retaining walls of the platform contain several gateways, all currently blocked. In the eastern wall is the Golden Gate, through which legend states the Jewish Messiah would enter Jerusalem. On the southern face are the Hulda Gates — the triple gate (which has three arches) and the double gate (which has two arches, and is partly obscured by a Crusader building); these were the entrance and exit (respectively) to the Temple Mount from Ophel (the oldest part of Jerusalem), and the main access to the Mount for ordinary Jews. In the western face, near the southern corner, is the Barclay's Gate – only half visible due to a building (the "house of Abu Sa'ud") on the northern side. Also in the western face, hidden by later construction but visible via the recent Western Wall Tunnels, and only rediscovered by Warren, is Warren's Gate; the function of these western gates is obscure, but many Jews view Warren's Gate as particularly holy, due to its location due west of the Dome of the Rock. Traditional belief considers the Dome of the Rock to have earlier been the location at which the Holy of Holies was placed; numerous alternative opinions exist, based on study and calculations, such as those of Tuvia Sagiv. Warren was able to investigate the inside of these gates. Warren's Gate and the Golden Gate simply head towards the centre of the Mount, fairly quickly giving access to the surface by steps. Barclay's Gate is similar, but abruptly turns south as it does so; the reason for this is currently unknown. The double and triple gates (the Huldah Gates) are more substantial; heading into the Mount for some distance they each finally have steps rising to the surface just north of the al-Aqsa Mosque. The passageway for each is vaulted, and has two aisles (in the case of the triple gate, a third aisle exists for a brief distance beyond the gate); the eastern aisle of the double gates and western of the triple gates reach the surface, the other aisles terminating some way before the steps – Warren believed that one aisle of each original passage was extended when the al-Aqsa Mosque blocked the original surface exits. In the process of investigating Cistern 10, Warren discovered tunnels that lay under the Triple Gate passageway. These passages lead in erratic directions, some leading beyond the southern edge of the Temple Mount (they are at a depth below the base of the walls); their purpose is currently unknown – as is whether they predate the Temple Mount – a situation not helped by the fact that apart from Warren's expedition no one else is known to have visited them. Altogether, there are six major sealed gates and a postern, listed here counterclockwise, dating from either the Roman/Herodian, Byzantine, or Early Muslim periods: Bab al-Jana'iz/al-Buraq (Gate of the Funerals/of al-Buraq); eastern wall; a hardly noticeable postern, or maybe an improvised gate, a short distance south of the Golden Gate Golden Gate (Bab al-Zahabi); eastern wall (northern third), a double gate: Bab al-Rahma (Door of Mercy) is the southern opening, Bab al-Tauba (Door of Repentance) is the northern opening Warren's Gate; western wall, now only visible from the Western Wall Tunnel Bab an-Nabi (Gate of the Prophet) or Barclay's Gate; western wall, visible from the al-Buraq Mosque inside the Haram, and from the Western Wall plaza (women's section) and the adjacent building (the so-called house of Abu Sa'ud) Double Gate (Bab al-Thulathe; possibly one of the Huldah Gates); southern wall, underneath the Al-Aqsa Mosque Triple Gate; southern wall, outside Solomon's Stables/Marwani Mosque Single Gate; southern wall, outside Solomon's Stables/Marwani Mosque Open gates of the Haram Main article: Gates of the Temple Mount There are currently eleven open gates offering access to the Muslim Haram al-Sharif. Bab al-Asbat (Gate of the Tribes); north-east corner Bab al-Hitta/Huttah (Gate of Remission, Pardon, or Absolution); northern wall Bab al-Atim/'Atm/Attim (Gate of Darkness); northern wall Bab al-Ghawanima (Gate of Bani Ghanim); north-west corner Bab al-Majlis / an-Nazir/Nadhir (Council Gate / Inspector's Gate); western wall (northern third) Bab al-Hadid (Iron Gate); western wall (central part) Bab al-Qattanin (Gate of the Cotton Merchants); western wall (central part) Bab al-Matarah/Mathara (Ablution Gate); western wall (central part) Two twin gates follow south of the Ablution Gate, the Tranquility Gate and the Gate of the Chain: Bab as-Salam / al-Sakina (Tranquility Gate / Gate of the Dwelling), the northern one of the two; western wall (central part) Bab as-Silsileh (Gate of the Chain), the southern one of the two; western wall (central part) Bab al-Magharbeh/Maghariba (Moroccans' Gate/Gate of the Moors); western wall (southern third); the only entrance for non-Muslims A twelfth gate still open during Ottoman rule is now closed to the public: Bab as-Sarai (Gate of the Seraglio); a small gate to the former residence of the Pasha of Jerusalem; western wall, northern part (between the Bani Ghanim and Council gates). Solomon's Stables/Marwani Mosque East of and joined to the triple gate passageway is a large vaulted area, supporting the southeastern corner of the Temple Mount platform – which is substantially above the bedrock at this point – the vaulted chambers here are popularly referred to as Solomon's Stables. They were used as stables by the Crusaders, but were built by Herod the Great – along with the platform they were built to support. Minarets Main article: Minarets of the Temple Mount The existing four minarets include three near the Western Wall and one near the northern wall. The first minaret was constructed on the southwest corner of the Temple Mount in 1278. The second was built in 1297 by order of a Mameluk king, the third by a governor of Jerusalem in 1329, and the last in 1367. Alterations to antiquities and damage to existing structures Main article: Excavations at the Temple Mount Due to the extreme political sensitivity of the site, no real archaeological excavations have ever been conducted on the Temple Mount itself. Protests commonly occur whenever archaeologists conduct projects near the Mount. This sensitivity has not, however, prevented the Muslim Waqf from destroying archeological evidence on a number of occasions. Aside from visual observation of surface features, most other archaeological knowledge of the site comes from the 19th-century survey carried out by Charles Wilson and Charles Warren and others. After the Six-Day War of 1967, Israeli archeologists began a series of excavations near the site at the southern wall that uncovered finds from the Second Temple period through Roman, Umayyad and Crusader times. Over the period 1970–88, a number of tunnels were excavated in the vicinity, including one that passed to the west of the Mount and became known as the Western Wall Tunnel, which was opened to the public in 1996. The same year the Waqf began construction of a new mosque in the structures known since Crusader times as Solomon's Stables. Many Israelis regarded this as a radical change of the status quo, which should not have been undertaken without first consulting the Israeli government. The project was done without attention to the possibility of disturbing historically significant archaeological material, with stone and ancient artifacts treated without regard to their preservation. In October 1999, the Islamic Waqf, and the Islamic Movement conducted an illegal dig which inflicted much archaeological damage. The earth from this operation, which has archeological wealth relevant to Jewish, Christian and Muslim history, was removed by heavy machinery and unceremoniously dumped by trucks into the nearby Kidron Valley. Although the archeological finds in the earth are already not in situ, this soil still contains great archeological potential. No archeological excavation was ever conducted on the Temple Mount, and this soil was the only archeological information that has ever been available to anyone. For this reason Israeli archaeologists Dr. Gabriel Barkay and Zachi Zweig established a project sifting all the earth in this dump: the Temple Mount Sifting Project. Among finds uncovered in rubble removed from the Temple Mount were: The imprint of a seal thought to have belonged to a priestly Jewish family mentioned in the Old Testament's Book of Jeremiah. More than 4300 coins from various periods. Many of them are from the Jewish revolt that preceded the destruction of the Second Temple by Roman legions in 70 CE emblazoned with the words "Freedom of Zion" Arrowheads shot by Babylonian archers 2,500 years ago, and others launched by Roman siege machinery 500 years later. Unique floor slabs of the 'opus sectile' technique that were used to pave the Temple Mount courts. This is also mentioned in Josephus accounts and the Babylonian Talmud. In late 2002, a bulge of about 700 mm was reported in the southern retaining wall part of the Temple Mount. A Jordanian team of engineers recommended replacing or resetting most of the stones in the affected area. In February 2004, the eastern wall of the Mount was damaged by an earthquake. The damage threatened to topple sections of the wall into the area known as Solomon's Stables. A few days later, a portion of retaining wall, supporting the earthen ramp that led from the Western Wall plaza to the Gate of the Moors on the Temple Mount, collapsed. In 2007 the Israel Antiquities Authority started work on the construction of a temporary wooden pedestrian pathway to replace the Mugrabi Gate ramp after a landslide in 2005 made it unsafe and in danger of collapse. The works sparked condemnation from Arab leaders. In July 2007 the Muslim religious trust which administers the Mount began digging a 400-metre-long, 1.5-metre-deep trench from the northern side of the Temple Mount compound to the Dome of the Rock in order to replace 40-year-old electric cables in the area. Israeli archaeologists accused the waqf of a deliberate act of cultural vandalism. Southern Wall of Temple Mount, southwestern corner. Israelis allege that Palestinians are deliberately removing significant amounts of archaeological evidence about the Jewish past of the site and claim to have found significant artifacts in the fill removed by bulldozers and trucks from the Temple Mount. Since the Waqf is granted almost full autonomy on the Islamic holy sites, Israeli archaeologists have been prevented from inspecting the area, and are restricted to conducting excavations around the Temple Mount. Muslims allege that the Israelis are deliberately damaging the remains of Islamic-era buildings found in their excavations. Religious attitudes This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (December 2009) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) In Judaism Presumed to be The Foundation Stone, or a large part of it Jewish connection and veneration to the site arguably stems from the fact that it contains the Foundation Stone which, according to the rabbis of the Talmud, was the spot from where the world was created and expanded into its current form. It was subsequently the Holy of Holies of the Temple, the Most Holy Place in Judaism. Jewish tradition names it as the location for a number of important events which occurred in the Bible, including the Binding of Isaac, Jacob's dream, and the prayer of Isaac and Rebekah. Similarly, when the Bible recounts that King David purchased a threshing floor owned by Araunah the Jebusite, tradition locates it as being on this mount. An early Jewish text, the Genesis Rabba, states that this site is one of three about which the nations of the world cannot taunt Israel and say "you have stolen them," since it was purchased "for its full price" by David. According to the Bible, David wanted to construct a sanctuary there, but this was left to his son Solomon, who completed the task in c. 950 BCE with the construction of the First Temple. In 1217, Spanish Rabbi Judah al-Harizi found the sight of the Muslim structures on the mount profoundly disturbing. "What torment to see our holy courts converted into an alien temple!" he wrote. Due to religious restrictions on entering the most sacred areas of the Temple Mount (see following section), the Western Wall, a retaining wall for the Temple Mount and remnant of the Second Temple structure, is considered by some rabbinical authorities to be the holiest accessible site for Jews to pray at. Jewish texts predict that the Mount will be the site of the Third Temple, which will be rebuilt with the coming of the Jewish Messiah. A number of vocal Jewish groups now advocate building the Third Holy Temple without delay in order to bring to pass God's "end-time prophetic plans for Israel and the entire world." A 2013 Knesset committee hearing considered allowing Jews to pray at the site, amidst heated debate. Arab-Israeli MPs were ejected for disrupting the hearing, after shouting at the chairman, calling her a "pyromaniac". Religious Affairs Minister Eli Ben-Dahan of Jewish Home said his ministry was seeking legal ways to enable Jews to pray at the site. Jewish religious law concerning entry to the site Main article: Temple Warning inscription During Temple times, entry to the Mount was limited by a complex set of purity laws. Those who were not of the Jewish nation were prohibited from entering the inner court of the Temple. A hewn stone measuring 60 x 90 cm. and engraved with Greek uncials was discovered in 1871 near a court on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in which it outlined this prohibition: ΜΗΟΕΝΑΑΛΛΟΓΕΝΗΕΙΣΠΟ ΡΕΥΕΣΟΑΙΕΝΤΟΣΤΟΥΠΕ ΡΙΤΟΙΕΡΟΝΤΡΥΦΑΚΤΟΥΚΑΙ ΠΕΡΙΒΟΛΟΥΟΣΔΑΝΛΗ ΦΘΗΕΑΥΤΩΙΑΙΤΙΟΣΕΣ ΤΑΙΔΙΑΤΟΕΞΑΚΟΛΟΥ ΘΕΙΝΘΑΝΑΤΟΝ Translation: "Let no foreigner enter within the parapet and the partition which surrounds the Temple precincts. Anyone caught [violating] will be held accountable for his ensuing death." Today, the stone is preserved in Istanbul's Museum of Antiquities. Maimonides wrote that it was only permitted to enter the site to fulfill a religious precept. After the destruction of the Temple there was discussion as to whether the site, bereft of the Temple, still maintained its holiness or not. Jewish codifiers accepted the opinion of Maimonides who ruled that the holiness of the Temple sanctified the site for eternity and consequently the restrictions on entry to the site are still currently in force. While secular Jews ascend freely, the question of whether ascending is permitted is a matter of some debate among religious authorities, with a majority holding that it is permitted to ascend to the Temple Mount, but not to step on the site of the inner courtyards of the ancient Temple. The question then becomes whether the site can be ascertained accurately. A second complex legal debate centers around the precise divine punishment for stepping onto these forbidden spots. There is debate over whether reports that Maimonides himself ascended the Mount are reliable. One such report claims that he did so on Thursday, October 21, 1165, during the Crusader period. Some early scholars however, claim that entry onto certain areas of the Mount is permitted. It appears that Radbaz also entered the Mount and advised others how to do this. He permits entry from all the gates into the 135×135 cubits of the Women's Courtyard in the east, since the biblical prohibition only applies to the 187×135 cubits of the Temple in the west. There are also Christian and Islamic sources which indicate that Jews accessed the site, but these visits may have been made under duress. Opinions of contemporary rabbis concerning entry to the site A few hours after the Temple Mount came under Israeli control during the Six-Day War, a message from the Chief Rabbis of Israel, Isser Yehuda Unterman and Yitzhak Nissim was broadcast, warning that Jews were not permitted to enter the site. This warning was reiterated by the Council of the Chief Rabbinate a few days later, which issued an explanation written by Rabbi Bezalel Jolti (Zolti) that "Since the sanctity of the site has never ended, it is forbidden to enter the Temple Mount until the Temple is built." The signatures of more than 300 prominent rabbis were later obtained. A major critic of the decision of the Chief Rabbinate was Rabbi Shlomo Goren, the chief rabbi of the IDF. According to General Uzi Narkiss, who led the Israeli force that conquered the Temple Mount, Goren proposed to him that the Dome of the Rock be immediately blown up. After Narkiss refused, Goren unsuccessfully petitioned the government to close off the Mount to Jews and non-Jews alike. Later he established his office on the Mount and conducted a series of demonstrations on the Mount in support of the right of Jewish men to enter there. His behavior displeased the government, which restricted his public actions, censored his writings, and in August prevented him from attending the annual Oral Law Conference at which the question of access to the Mount was debated.Although there was considerable opposition, the conference consensus was to confirm the ban on entry to Jews. The ruling said "We have been warned, since time immemorial [lit. for generations and generations], against entering the entire area of the Temple Mount and have indeed avoided doing so." According to Ron Hassner, the ruling "brilliantly" solved the government's problem of avoiding ethnic conflict, since those Jews who most respected rabbinical authority were those most likely to clash with Muslims on the Mount. Rabbinical consensus in the post-1967 period, held that it is forbidden for Jews to enter any part of the Temple Mount, and in January 2005 a declaration was signed confirming the 1967 decision. While Rabbi Moshe Feinstein permitted, in principle, entry to some parts of the site, most other Haredi rabbis are of the opinion that the Mount is off limits to Jews and non-Jews alike. Their opinions against entering the Temple Mount are based on the current political climate surrounding the Mount, along with the potential danger of entering the hallowed area of the Temple courtyard and the impossibility of fulfilling the ritual requirement of cleansing oneself with the ashes of a red heifer. The boundaries of the areas which are completely forbidden, while having large portions in common, are delineated differently by various rabbinic authorities. However, there is a growing body of Modern Orthodox and national religious rabbis who encourage visits to certain parts of the Mount, which they believe are permitted according to most medieval rabbinical authorities. These rabbis include: Shlomo Goren (former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel); Chaim David Halevi (former Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv and Yaffo); Dov Lior (Rabbi of Kiryat Arba); Yosef Elboim; Yisrael Ariel; She'ar Yashuv Cohen (Chief Rabbi of Haifa); Yuval Sherlo (rosh yeshiva of the hesder yeshiva of Petah Tikva); Meir Kahane. One of them, Shlomo Goren, held that it is possible that Jews are even allowed to enter the heart of the Dome of the Rock in time of war, according to Jewish Law of Conquest. These authorities demand an attitude of veneration on the part of Jews ascending the Temple Mount, ablution in a mikveh prior to the ascent, and the wearing of non-leather shoes. Some rabbinic authorities are now of the opinion that it is imperative for Jews to ascend in order to halt the ongoing process of Islamization of the Temple Mount. Maimonides, perhaps the greatest codifier of Jewish Law, wrote in Laws of the Chosen House ch 7 Law 15 "One may bring a dead body in to the (lower sanctified areas of the) Temple Mount and there is no need to say that the ritually impure (from the dead) may enter there, because the dead body itself can enter". One who is ritually impure through direct or in-direct contact of the dead cannot walk in the higher sanctified areas. For those who are visibly Jewish, they have no choice, but to follow this peripheral route as it has become unofficially part of the status quo on the Mount. Many of these recent opinions rely on archaeological evidence. In December 2013, the two Chief Rabbis of Israel, David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef, reiterated the ban on Jews entering the Temple Mount. They wrote, "In light of [those] neglecting [this ruling], we once again warn that nothing has changed and this strict prohibition remains in effect for the entire area [of the Temple Mount]". In November 2014, the Sephardic chief rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, reiterated the point of view held by many rabbinic authorities that Jews should not visit the Mount. On the occasion of an upsurge in Palestinian knifing attacks on Israelis, associated with fears that Israel was changing the status quo on the Mount, the Haredi newspaper Mishpacha ran a notification in Arabic asking 'their cousins', Palestinians, to stop trying to murder members of their congregation, since they were vehemently opposed to ascending the Mount and consider such visits proscribed by Jewish law. In Islam Facade of the Al-Aqsa Mosque In Islam, the Mount is called the Noble Sanctuary or Haram al-Sharif. The site contains the Al-Aqsa Mosque, a mosque that is regarded as being the third holiest site in Islam. A 13th-century claim to an extended region of holiness was made by Ibn Taymiyyah who asserted: "Al-Masjid al-Aqsa is the name for the whole of the place of worship built by Sulaymaan..." which, according to western tradition, presents: "...the place of worship built by Solomon" known as Solomon's Temple. Ibn Taymiyyah had also opposed giving any undue religious honors to mosques (even that of Jerusalem), to approach or rival in any way the perceived Islamic sanctity of the two most holy mosques within Islam, Masjid al-Haram (in Mecca) and Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (in Madina). Muslims view the site as being one of the earliest and most noteworthy places of worship of God. For a few years in the early stages of Islam, Muhammad instructed his followers to face the Mount during prayer. The site is also important as being the site of the "Farthest Mosque" (mentioned in the Quran as the location of Muhammad's miraculous Night Journey) to heaven.: "Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram (the Sacred Mosque) to al-Masjid al-Aqsa (the Further Mosque), whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing." Quran 17:1 The hadith, a collection of the sayings of the Prophet Mohammad, confirm that the location of the Al-Aqsa mosque is indeed in Jerusalem: "When the people of Quraish did not believe me (i.e. the story of my Night Journey), I stood up in Al-Hijr and Allah displayed Jerusalem in front of me, and I began describing Jerusalem to them while I was looking at it." Sahih Bukhari: Volume 5, Book 58, Number 226. Muslim interpretations of the Quran agree that the Mount is the site of a Temple built by Sulayman, considered a prophet in Islam, that was later destroyed. After the construction, Muslims believe, the temple was used for the worship of one God by many prophets of Islam, including Jesus. Other Muslim scholars have used the Torah (called Tawrat in Arabic) to expand on the details of the temple. In Christianity See also: Jerusalem in Christianity The Mount has great significance in Christianity due to the role Herod's Temple played in the life of Jesus. As a twelve-year-old boy, Jesus was found in the Temple where he confounded the Jewish theologians with his knowledge of the Torah. (Luke 2:41-50) During his ministry, Jesus asserted the corruption of those who used the Temple for commerce and extortion (Matthew 21:12-17) and prophesied the temple's destruction, which came to pass in AD 70. (Mark 13:1-2) In Christian art, the Circumcision of Jesus was conventionally depicted as taking place at the Temple, even though European artists until recently had no way of knowing what the Temple looked like and the Gospels do not state that the event took place at the Temple. During the Byzantine era, Jerusalem was primarily Christian and pilgrims came by the tens of thousands to experience the places where Jesus walked. After the Persian invasion in 614 many churches were razed and the site was turned into a dumpyard. The Arabs conquered the city from the Byzantine Empire which had retaken it in 629. The Byzantine ban on the Jews was lifted and they were allowed to live inside the city and visit the places of worship. Christian pilgrims were able to come and experience the Temple Mount area. The war between Seljuqs and Byzantine Empire and increasing Muslim violence against Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem instigated the Crusades. The Crusaders captured Jerusalem in 1099 and the Dome of the Rock was given to the Augustinians, who turned it into a church, and the Al-Aqsa Mosque became the royal palace of Baldwin I of Jerusalem in 1104. The Knights Templar, who believed the Dome of the Rock was the site of the Solomon's Temple, gave it the name "Templum Domini" and set up their headquarters in the Al-Aqsa Mosque adjacent to the Dome for much of the 12th century. Though some Christians believe that the Temple will be reconstructed before, or concurrent with, the Second Coming of Jesus (also see dispensationalism), pilgrimage to the Temple Mount is not viewed as essential in the beliefs and worship of most Christians. The New Testament recounts a story of a Samaritan woman asking Jesus about the appropriate place to worship, Jerusalem or the Samaritan holy place at Mount Gerizim, to which Jesus replies, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."(John 4:21-24) This has been construed to mean that Jesus dispensed with physical location for worship, which was a matter rather of spirit and truth.