Tests on Temple Mount’s eastern wall

A team of senior Egyptian and Jordanian engineers on Thursday began tests to determine the stability of the eastern wall of the Temple Mount. The survey came just weeks after a report issued by the Israeli Antiquities Authority stated that the 2000-year-old wall was in danger of immediate collapse as a result of the February earthquake that rocked the country.

The six-person team, which includes four Egyptian engineers and geologists as well as two architects from Jordan, was summoned to Jerusalem at the behest of the Jordanian Government, the Egyptian head of the team, Professor Saleh Lamei said Thursday.

Lamei who serves as the Director General of Cairo’s Center for Conservation and Preservation of Islamic Architectural Heritage, said that the group would be carrying out a one-week survey of the wall and would then return to Cairo to prepare their report for the Jordanian Government, which he said would be completed in about one month.

The Israel Antiquities Authority refused comment Thursday, maintaining their virtual media silence on all matters related to the ultra-sensitive Jerusalem holy site.

The report says that the February 11 earthquake that rattled the country damaged the eastern wall of the Temple Mount to such an extent that sections of the wall are liable 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 archaeologists following the earthquake, the report states.

The earthquake, which measured 5 on the Richter scale, did not cause any serious injuries or damage. Just around the corner from where the Arab workers were at work Thursday on the eastern wall, another team of Jordanians has been repairing a bulge on the southern wall for the past year.

An ancient window in the epicenter of the bulge on the southern wall has been enlarged and opened, presumably to allow workers easier access to the outer wall from inside.

Israeli archaeologists say that the bulge on the southern wall was undoubtedly caused by the Wakf construction work at Solomon’s Stables over the last decade, while a Jordanian report suggests that it was the result of the natural flow of rainwater over the centuries.

Israel maintains overall security of the site, while the Wakf, or Islamic Trust [Smooth: Now that’s an oxymoron, eh?], is charged with day-to-day maintenance at the compound.

In the late 1990s, the Wakf turned Solomon’s Stables into the largest mosque in the country, accommodating 30,000 worshipers. Its excavation caused extensive damage to antiquities at Judaism’s holiest site, which were unearthed and then heaped onto a garbage dump.

Israeli archaeologists from the Antiquities Authority have not carried out routine supervision at the site for more than three years, despite the reopening of the ancient compound to non-Muslims last year, due to concern over renewed Palestinian violence at the site.

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