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Temple Mount - Jerusalem

The Dome of the Rock was built by the Muslim ruler Abd el-Malik in 688-691, on the site of the Jewish 2nd Temple (destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E.) and 1st Temple (destroyed by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C.) on Mount Moriah. The Dome was built on top of the the rock where the sacrificial altar of the temple stood. - the "Foundation Stone", the symbolic site of the world's creation, and the site of the Temples' Holy of Holies, the supreme embodiment of the relationship between God and the people of Israel. The rock contains four deep holes which were cut into the rock to support the structure of the original holy of Holies. In Muslim legends these are the hoof prints of Al Boraq (meaning "the lightning") the horse that supposedly carried Mohammed to heaven in a vision. In actual life Mohammed never visited Jerusalem. He was only there in a vision.
The Dome of the Rock is Islam's third holiest site.

The Temple Mount, as the site is called today, is Judaism's holiest site. For centuries a place where Jews were forbidden to enter. The site today is under the administration of the Jerusalem Waqf (Islamic Religious Authority). Jews have been allowed to enter the Mount as of the summer of 2003 under the watchful eye of Waqf officials and the Jerusalem police who stringently guard the status quo regarding the presence of Jews on the Temple Mount.
Of particular interest is the Gates of Mercy. These are massive gates which are permanently closed through which, according to Jewish Tradition, the Messiah will enter Jerusalem. To complicate this endeavor the Muslims built a cemetery under the gates on the outer slope of the Mount and watchmen are permanently on guard on top of the gates. (The day I photographed the Mount they were not there.) Solomon's Stables is the site of the biggest archeological disaster in the history of the Middle East. Thousands of tons of material has been removed from under the Mount to build the biggest mosque in Israel. Priceless archeological finds were destroyed in the process and so much damage was caused that the outer wall of the Temple Mount is in imminent danger of collapse. Jewish archeologists are not allowed in to examine the damage so a team of Jordanian archeologists are working to shore up the wall which is bulging out.
According to Jewish Law, Jews are only allowed to walk around the perimeter of the Temple Mount since Jews today are considered ritually unclean. In the absence of a Holy Temple there is no ritual way to become cleansed. Before going up to the Temple Mount immersion in a pool of water (Mikve)is required. In deference to the Holiness of the site, wearing leather shoes, carrying bags, cell phones, side arms, is forbidden. Sitting down is frowned upon, as is frivolous talk. What is most painful is that Jews are forbidden to pray, move their lips in prayer, stand still and pray, bow down or in any way upset Waqf officials on this Holiest of Holy Sites. Any Jew who violates the Waqf regulation is open to immediate arrest by the police.
The entrance to the Mount
The entrance to the Mount
Security checks are very sringent
Security checks are very sringent
The only entrance to the Mount is through the gate known as the Rambam gate
The only entrance to the Mount is through the gate known as the Rambam gate
Religoius Jews are forbidden by Jewish law to wear leather footware on the Mount because of it's Holiness
Religoius Jews are forbidden by Jewish law to wear leather footware on the Mount because of it's Holiness
A group of Jewish visitors enter the Mount.
A group of Jewish visitors enter the Mount.
Archeological finds lie in piles in one corner of the Mount
Archeological finds lie in piles in one corner of the Mount
Archeological finds lie in piles in one corner of the Mount. The Wakf forbids any cataloging of the priceless artifacts
Archeological finds lie in piles in one corner of the Mount. The Wakf forbids any cataloging of the priceless artifacts
Archeological finds lie in piles in one corner of the Mount
Archeological finds lie in piles in one corner of the Mount
Archeological finds lie in piles in one corner of the Mount
Archeological finds lie in piles in one corner of the Mount
Archeological finds lie in piles in one corner of the Mount
Archeological finds lie in piles in one corner of the Mount
Archeological finds lie in piles in one corner of the Mount
Archeological finds lie in piles in one corner of the Mount
Archeological finds lie in piles in one corner of the Mount
Archeological finds lie in piles in one corner of the Mount
The Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock
Jewish visitors walk past the Al Aqsa mosque.
Jewish visitors walk past the Al Aqsa mosque.
Police guarding Jewish visitors
Police guarding Jewish visitors
Jewish visitors
Jewish visitors
The Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock
Solomons Stables
Solomons Stables
View from the Temple Mount Wall
View from the Temple Mount Wall
Walking along the outer wall
Walking along the outer wall
The Gates of Mercy
The Gates of Mercy
View from The Gates of Mercy
View from The Gates of Mercy
View from The Gates of Mercy
View from The Gates of Mercy
The outer wall
The outer wall
The outer wall
The outer wall
The Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock