The new tunnel
The new tunnel(Photo: Channel 2)

Israel is opening a 25-meter long tunnel that will connect the Western Wall Tunnels with an ancient restored synagogue in the so-called Muslim Quarter, uniting the Old City.

Channel 2 television was brought on an exclusive tour of the new network of tunnels, which was broadcast during Wednesday’s 8 o’clock news. (click here to view the report - in Hebrew)

The tunnel will lead from the Western Wall plaza to the Ohel Yitzchak synagogue, which is being reconstructed and rehabilitated by the Moskowitz Foundation, headed by Land of Israel philanthropist Irving Moskowitz.

The foundation explains on its web site the significance of the structure: “An important building which was originally constructed as a Jewish religious center in the Old City of Jerusalem in the mid-19th century, the building is one of three large and elegant synagogues constructed in the old city during the 19th century, and following the Six-Day War in 1967 was returned to Israel's control. The Foundation is sponsoring the reconstruction and restoration of the synagogue due to its historical, archaeological, urban and architectural importance. The synagogue, when completed, will be used for regular services and will be open to general access as well.”

The synagogue was first abandoned during the Arab riots in 1936, and was later blown up by the Jordanian army during its conquest of the Jewish Quarter in the 1948 War of Independence.

Muslim preachers and propagandists insist that the new tunnel is part of a plot to tunnel beneath the Temple Mount and destroy the mosques there. In fact, however, the tunnel does not go past the Western Wall, though it is presumed that the security establishment has held off on opening the tunnels due to fear of Muslim rioting.

The opening of the final segment of the Western Wall Tunnels resulted in Arab rioting, as did the start of excavations on the Rambam (Mughrabi) foot bridge. With the war in the south, however, and Israeli-Arab rioting going on anyway, the government has apparently decided that time has come.