A team of Jordanian engineers which has been repairing the bulge on the southern wall of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount will be in charge of repair work on hundreds of small holes uncovered in the adjacent eastern wall, a senior Jordanian official said Thursday.
A joint Egyptian-Jordanian report on the stability of the eastern wall issued this week tells of hundreds of small cavities all over the eastern wall, the head of the Jordanian team, Dr. Raief Najim, told The Jerusalem Post in a telephone interview from Amman.
The report cites the natural flow of rainwater over the years – not a winter earthquake in the region – as the cause of the damage, which Najim said is particularly serious in two areas of the eastern wall.
A copy of the English-language report is being delivered this weekend to Jerusalem police, officials said.
Last month, Shuka Dorfman, the head of the Antiquities Authority, warned that the eastern wall was in danger of immediate collapse which could cause a “domino effect” and bring down other sections of the ancient compound.
The rare public warning followed a classified report issued by the authority earlier this year had stated that the wall was in danger of immediate collapse as a result of the February earthquake that rattled the country.
That report said that the earthquake damaged the eastern wall to such an extent that sections of the wall are likely to cave in on the underground architectural support of the mount, known as Solomon’s Stables.
New cracks and movements in the already fragile wall were discerned by archeologists following the earthquake, the Israeli report states.
But Najim said that the structural stability of the wall was not effected by what he termed “the weak spots” in the eastern wall.
The Jordanians, who have have been charged with the ongoing repair of a bulge on the southern wall over the last year, have become increasingly involved in Temple Mount issues after nearly a decade during which they were sidelined by the Palestinian Authority.
Najim noted that while the bulge on the southern wall is larger, the damage on the eastern wall lies on a much greater area. The most seriously effected defects on the wall are 40 square meters and 10 sq.m. each, he said.
Over the last year, Jordanian engineers repairing the southern wall have injected 25 tons of material to buttress it, Najim said.
The 18-month-long repair work on the southern wall should be completed in about a month, he said, while work on the eastern wall, which will include the replacement of deteriorated stones, will take about a year.
Israel is responsible for overall security of the site, while the Wakf, or Islamic trust, is charged with day-to-day maintenance.
Wakf director Adnan Husseini has previously asserted that there is “no problem” with the eastern wall.
“It’s not as serious as the Israelis say, but a lot of work needs to be done,” said Prof. Saleh Lamei, director-general of Cairo’s Center for Conservation and Preservation of Islamic Architectural Heritage, who carried out the survey of the eastern wall this spring at the behest of the Jordanian government.
Najim said that one of the report’s recommendations was to have “preventative maintenance” to ensure that water does not stay inside the stones.
Antiquities Authority archeologists have not been monitoring the site regularly for more than three years due to concern over renewed Palestinian violence.