Israel is planning a major archaeological dig under the Western Wall (Kotel) plaza, opposite the Temple Mount, officials announced Thursday. The excavations will create an archaeological park directly underneath the area where worshippers currently stand while praying at the Kotel.
The current prayer area will remain open, supported by pillars, while a new area will be added underneath, at the level at which worshippers at the ancient Temple stood in the past.
The dig may be met with harsh reactions from Muslim and Arab leaders in Israel and the Palestinian Authority, many of whom have accused Israel of attempting to damage the Al-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount. Jerusalem-area Muslims recently rioted for several days after it was rumored that “Jewish settlers” had planned to pray on the Temple Mount.
The Government Press Office gave foreign journalists a tour of Kotel-area excavations this week. The tour, ostensibly an apolitical opportunity to view new historic findings, appeared to be aimed at countering Muslim criticism of Israeli excavations as well. See drawing of planned archeological park
Read Entire Story in Arutz Sheva
dig,Al-Aksa Mosque, worshippers, Jewish settlers