Police at the Western Wall (Kotel) on Sunday and Monday closed two of the main entrances into the Kotel Plaza. The two entrances that were closed are the ones enabling pedestrians to enter from the Jewish Quarter and from the Arab Shuk in the Old City.
As a result, those who wanted to visit the Kotel were forced to enter through the Dung Gate entrance, causing long lines and waiting times.
Officials of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation said that the closures took place because there are not enough security guards to ensure safety at all entrances. Security is provided by a private company which is suffering from a lack of manpower, and efforts to increase the numbers of guards have fallen flat, the company said.
This is the first time that two entrances to the Plaza were closed at the same time, although one of the three entrances to the site have been closed at times in recent months because of the problem.
Police are responsible for the contract with the private security company, and Foundation officials urged police brass to push the company to fulfill its obligations by finding enough workers to fill all the slots. “This situation cannot continue,” said a Foundation official. “If this problem is not solved we will no doubt see further closings of the gates to the Kotel, with the public being shunted from entrance to entrance as they seek to pray at the holy site.”