kotel western wall 298.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
After a two-and-a-half year delay, a three decades-old wobbly ramp leading up to the Mughrabi Gate adjacent to the Western Wall which has long been unsafe by city engineers will be removed soon, officials said Wednesday.
The stone ramp, which was built after the Six Day War in 1967 and served as the point of entry for non-Muslim visitors entering the Temple Mount, was badly damaged during an earthquake that rattled that region two years ago and by inclement wintry weather, Israeli archeologists said. In addition, heavy rains during the winter of 2004 caused the ramp to partially collapse onto the women's section.
After being deemed unsafe by city engineers, the ramp was blocked off and a new bridge was built next to it, which is currently used as the main non-Muslim entryway to the Temple Mount.
Since then, the area of the wall closest to the rampart, approximately one-third of the original size of the women's section, has been cornered off due to the danger it posed to worshippers, severely reducing the space of the section.
With the planned removal of the rampart now said to be imminent, the women's section is expected to return to its former size, the same size as the outdoor men's section.
"There's no reason that in the most sacred site for the Jewish people the men will have a big comfortable plaza while the women will have to be cramped and crowded," said Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, who has supported restoring the women's section at the wall to its natural size.
Israeli archeologists have long desired to carry out excavations under the pathway, with such a move expected to be approved now despite the adamant opposition of Islamic officials, who have long decried any Israeli digs anywhere near the site.
In the past, Israeli security officials have vetoed any excavations under the ramp due to concerns over Palestinian violence.
The Antiquities Authority declined comment on the issue Wednesday.
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