Jerusalem City Council members on Thursday visited the Kotel, taking a route through the Damascus Gate, the main entrance to the Muslim quarter of the Old City.
Speaking at the end of the visit, City Councilman Dov Kalmanovich called on more Israelis to visit the Kotel and the Old City – and to do so via the Damascus Gate.
The Kotel, located at the “seam” of the Jewish Quarter and the Muslim Quarter, is adjacent to the Old City's Dung Gate, which is located on the eastern side of the Old City. Many visitors also visit the site via the Jaffa Gate, via the Armenian Quarter, and the Zion Gate, the direct entrance to the Jewish Quarter.
The Damascus Gate, located on the western side of the Old City, is generally used for access to the Muslim Quarter, and for deliveries to the Arab marketplace in the Old City. But the Old City's quarters are not hermetically sealed from each other, and indeed all areas are accessible from all its gates.
Some Jews do in fact use the Damascus Gate to reach the Kotel. Generally it's an uneventful walk, but in recent weeks, the walk has become very unpleasant.
With the removal of the Mourabitoun group from the Temple Mount – a group of ululating Arab women who would harass Jews visitors to the Mount – members have taken up positions in the Muslim Quarter, harassing Israelis who use the route to get to the Kotel, or the Temple Mount.
The harassment consists screaming at the faces of adults and especially children just inches away from their faces, spitting, cursing, and other activities.
While their behavior is disgusting, Kalmanovich said, Israelis must not be intimidated by the Arab women.
“Since Rosh Hashanah, this route has been taken over by ululating Arab women screaming at Jewish passersby,” he said. “This behavior has 'leaked out' from the Temple Mount to the route, and it limits our freedom of movement."
"Since 1967, the route has been open to Jews who wished to go to the Kotel, and it must remain so," Kalmanovich stressed. "We call on all Israelis to come and visit the Kotel, and to do so via the Damascus Gate route.”