Western Wall boulder dislodges, crashes on egalitarian prayer section

A boulder dislodged from the Western Wall and crashed into the egalitarian prayer section. No one was injured.

By: World Israel News Staff

A massive boulder dislodged from the Western Wall on Monday, crashing into the Ezrat Yisrael egalitarian section, which was empty at the time.

The area was closed until further notice.

This rare event occurred just a day after the Western Wall plaza was packed with Jewish worshippers who had come to mark the fast of Tisha B’Av (the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av), the day on Jews mourn the destruction of the two Temples and many calamitous events throughout Jewish history that fell on that date.

The massive rock weighs about 220 pounds (100 kilos).

The last such incident occurred in 2004, when large pieces of Western Wall stone fell in the mainstream prayer plaza, slightly injuring a Yom Kippur worshipper, Times of Israel reported.

Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) officials arrived at the site to asses the damage and possible conservation activities.

The IAA pointed to several factors that may have caused the boulder to fall, including vegetation growing in the wall that dislodged the massive stone and moisture.

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“With the help of advanced technological methods, IAA experts will begin careful monitoring in the area of ​​the fall as part of a survey of the entire area and the formulations of recommendations for the elimination of such danger,” the IAA stated. “The Israel Antiquities Authority is aware of the sensitivity required in handling this case and will work in cooperation with all the relevant bodies.”

Jerusalem’s Mayor Nir Barkat said it “was a miracle” that no one was hurt in the incident and that he intended to request that the Prime Minister’s Office, which is responsible for the site, increase its inspections to stop the wall’s crumbling and to ensure it can be approached safely.

The ancient limestone wall was originally erected as part of the expansion of the Second Jewish Temple begun by Herod the Great over 2,000 years ago.

The Western Wall is considered holy due to its connection to the Temple Mount. Because of restrictions to non-Muslims entering the Temple Mount complex, which is administered by the Jordanian Muslim Trust, the Wall is the holiest place where Jews are permitted to pray, although the holiest site lies just above it.