A large boulder from the Western Wall was dislodged from the ancient structure on Monday morning, tumbling down onto an egalitarian prayer platform, which was empty at the time.
There were no reported injuries in the incident near Robinson’s Arch, south of the main prayer plaza, but the rock landed very close to a female worshiper.
Seventy-nine-year-old worshiper Daniella Goldberg told Reuters: “I didn’t hear or feel anything until it landed right at my feet.”
The smaller of two platforms designated for mixed-gender prayer there was closed until further notice.
“Israel Antiquities Authority officials are dealing with the incident,” said Masorti movement head Yitzhar Hess in a statement posted on Twitter, alongside dramatic footage of the stone coming loose and crashing onto the platform, revealing dirt behind the wall.
“This is a wake-up call — we must check the entire Western Wall, both parts, so that heaven forbid there is no disaster in the future,” he added.
The fallen boulder weighed about 220 pounds (100 kilos), Israel Radio said.
The incident came a day after the platform was filled with worshippers marking the Tisha B’Av fast, which honors the destruction of the two Jewish temples in Jerusalem. Tens of thousands of Jewish Israelis also flocked to the main prayer plaza of the Western Wall between Saturday night and Sunday evening to solemnly mark the day.
The rabbi of the main Western Wall plaza called for public “soul searching” after the incident. “This is an unusual and most rare incident that has not occurred for decades,” said Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch. “The fact that this powerful incident happened a day after the 9th of Av fast, in which we mourned the destruction of our temples, raises doubts and questions which the human soul is too small to contain, and requires soul-searching.”
“I thank the creator that a heavy disaster was averted,” he added.
An archaeologist who visited the site later Monday warned that the entire Western Wall is “danger zone,” and said the public should stay away. Zachi Dvira said he noted multiple cracks in other stones and fears that another stone fall is just a matter of time. Other stones “could immediately fall on the heads of people,” said Dvira, who is completing a PhD on the recorded archaeology of the Temple Mount.
Following the stone’s fall from one of the original Herodian courses of the Western Wall, a team of IAA experts, including archaeologists, engineers and conservationists, began careful examination of the affected area.
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Source: Times of Israel