An earthquake shook Israel at 12:37 PM Friday. The only damage reported in Israel was on the Temple Mount and near Shechem (Nablus).
The earthquake measured 5.3 on the Richter scale; its epicenter was located in northeastern Lebanon. Earlier last week an earthquake measuring 4.1 was felt in northern Israel, also originating from Lebanon, near its northern city of Tyre.
A large hole opened up on the Temple Mount during Friday's earthquake (click here for pictures), which was soon covered by officials from the Wakf Islamic Authority that administers the mosques built atop Judaism’s holiest site.
The only other reported damage in the Holy Land was incurred between Palestinian Authority-controlled Shechem (Nablus) and Jenin, where an old home collapsed, blocking the main road to the village of Khufin. The village is not far from the site of the Biblical Joseph’s Tomb, which was set ablaze by Muslim vandals last week.
At least five people were injured and two homes were destroyed in southern Lebanon as a result of Friday’s quake.
Wakf Officials Blame Israel
Wakf officials tried to blame Israel for the 6-foot by 5-foot hole, which is about three feet deep, claiming it was caused by Israel, which it accuses of tunneling beneath the Temple Mount. They demanded an end to all Israeli excavations in the area.
Though several excavation projects are taking place around the Western Wall Plaza, none of them entail tunneling past the wall itself and beneath the mount. The Wakf’s official position is that there was never a Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount and has gone to great efforts to erase archaeological evidence of Judaism’s historical ties to the site.
Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz issued a statement rejecting the Muslim claims. "These are mendacious reports without a grain of truth," he said, adding that work in the Temple Mount compound would be contrary to Jewish law. “Such claims are a desecration and cause hatred and incitement for no reason whatsoever,” Rabbi Rabinowitz said. He stressed that work on the Rambam (Mughrabi) Gate ramp to the Temple Mount is vital for the safety of those who visit the Western Wall and called on the authorities to finish the work speedily.