Jerusalem's Wailing Wall at risk of collapse
By Carolynne Wheeler in Jerusalem
For thousands of years it has withstood fires, floods and earthquakes. But now a portion of one of Judaism's holiest sites, Jerusalem's Western Wall, is crumbling.
The rabbi charged with watching over the structure, which the faith believes to be the last remnants of a retaining wall from the ancient Second Temple, has warned that a section repaired more than a century ago is again at risk of falling.
Because the weakened stonework is high on the 60ft wall, the danger from any falling fragment to the crowds who pray at its foot each day is particularly acute.
"We found that the stones at the bottom of the wall, the stones from the Second Temple period, were strong and stable," said Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch. "However, we discovered that there are problems with the smaller stones, those at the top of the wall."
His warning came as Israel hosted record numbers of tourists for the Passover holiday and prepares for high-profile visitors for the 60th anniversary of its founding, next month. World leaders including the American President, George W Bush, the former prime minister Tony Blair, and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, are to be joined by others such as the Google founder, Sergey Brin, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerman at a conference hosted by Israel's president, Shimon Peres. [more]