The Solomon’s Stables compound,which is situated in the eastern part of the Temple Mount, was built during Herod’s time. It is 20 meters high, and was constructed of large stones, creating large areas that were used, apparently, to store either goods or animals.

The arches and walls that currently support the structure were built only later. Some researchers believe they were added during the Umayyad Dynasty period (between the seventh and eighth century), while others are convinced they were built only during the Crusader period (the 12th and 13th centuries), when the area served as stables for the Knights Templar.

Dr. Eilat Mazar, from the Committee for the Prevention of the Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount, told Ma’ariv about the process in which Solomon’s Stables evolved from an archeological site into the largest mosque in Israel. Mazar: “In 1996 the Wakf exploited a permit that it was given by the Israeli government to clean the site, and turned the cavern of Solomon’s Stables, which is five and a half dunams in size, into a giant mosque. But they didn’t suffice with that: three years later, they received authorization from the prime minister at the time, Ehud Barak, to open ‘a small emergency opening’ in the structure. But in accelerated work that lasted three days and three nights, that ‘small opening’ turned into a 2,000 square meter square pit that was more than 12 meters deep. The Wakf removed from the site 12,000 cubic meters of dirt that included, in our judgment, many rare archeological artifacts that simply were tossed in the garbage.”

The Committee for the Prevention of the Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount members believe that opening Solomon’s Stables destabilized the entire structure, both on the southern wall of the Temple Mount where the “bulge” emerged from the wall (and which threatens to cause its ultimate collapse) and in Solomon’s Stables. “We know from testimony of people who visited Solomon’s Stables that the arches and supports there are cracked and that they are in a very bad state engineering-wise-so bad that they are liable to collapse very soon,” said Dr. Mazar.

This article ran in Maariv on September 26th, 2004