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Unsupported Mugrabi Gate Endangers Women’s’ Area at Western Wall

Experts warn of imminent catastrophe as only bridge for Jews to reach Temple Mount is in danger of collapsing, yet Israeli government ignores it.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 10/29/2010, 5:22 AM / Last Update: 10/29/2010, 9:55 AM

Kuvien Images

A recent report by engineers says that the condition of the Mugrabi Gate is continuously deteriorating and that a few incidents of rocks collapsing from it were recently reported.

The Mugrabi Gate is the only entry point for Jews and other non-Muslims to the Temple Mount.

Jerusalem District Archaeologist Yochanan Zeligman recently addressed a letter to Israel Antiquities Authority Director-General Shuka Dorfman, in which he warned that “a danger exists to the crowd in the women’s section of the Western Wall Plaza, as well to those who walk on the temporary bridge, should stones fall from above.”

The temporary bridge to which Zeligman referred is a wooden pedestrian pathway to the Temple Mount which was constructed in 2007 after a landslide two years earlier made the earthen ramp leading to the Mugrabi Gate unsafe and in danger of collapse. Zeligman’s letter was based on a report he submitted which determined that since the construction in the Mugrabi Gate has not yet been completed, there are sections which are unsupported and could endanger visitors to the site.

Archaeologist Dr. Gabi Barkai, Jerusalem Prize Winner, member of the Committee for the Prevention of the Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount, and lecturer at Bar Ilan University, spoke with Arutz7 on Thursday and expressed his sorrow that the Mugrabi Bridge is not being maintained for illogical political reasons.

“There was a plan to build a permanent bridge and digging began to place the ‘legs’ for the new bridge,” said Barkai. “Unfortunately, the moment the Antiquities Authority began the work, commotion erupted. Sheikh Raed Salah incited the world against us, claiming that we were damaging the holiness of Islam and harming the foundations of the Al Aqsa Mosque, which was a false and stupid statement.”

Barkai went on to describe commotions that took place and recounted how a delegation from Turkey determined that Israel was indeed damaging a holy Islamic site. Subsequently, said Barkai, the digging stopped after Knesset Minister Raleb Majadele intervened.

He expressed his concerns that the bridge will collapse and cause a catastrophe. “It’s nothing but a temporary bridge which is sitting on a rampart that is prone to fall. The Muslims apparently prefer that a permanent bridge to the Temple Mount not be built so that it is open to Muslims only. From the start of the "Oslo Accords War", also known as the Second Intifada, in 2000 and up until 2008, it was forbidden for Jews and non-Muslims to enter the Temple Mount, and indeed without the Mugrabi Gate there is no other entrance. If the rampart collapses the first victims will be the women praying in the Women’s Section.”

Barkai noted that from his experience, the Israeli government refrains from taking action until a disaster occurs. “The IAA is also between a rock and a hard place. The only one that can handle this issue is the Prime Minister’s Office.”