My buddy Ben whom I was hanging out with for the day and a Bethlehem taxi driver who rapidly became our buddy as well. The chicken and bread was excellent! My stomach is growling for it right now…
The Ibrahimi Mosque, or Mosque of Abraham, which is located atop The Cave of the Patriarchs, or in Biblical terms The Cave of Machpelah which Abraham purchased from the Hittites as a burial ground.
Wikipedia summarizes well the Cave/Mosque’s current status:
After the Six Day War, the area came under the control of Israel, and the restriction limiting Jews to the 7th step was lifted. In 1994 Baruch Goldstein took an assault rifle into the enclosure and killed 29 Palestinian Muslims at prayer, as well as injuring 125 others, before being bludgeoned to death by survivors. The resulting riots left an additional 26 Palestinians and 9 Israelis dead, and the incident provoked national and international condemnation of Goldstein’s actions.
The increased sensitivity of the site meant that in 1995 the Wye River Accords, part of the Arab-Israeli peace process, included a temporary status agreement for the site, restricting access for both Jews and Muslims. As part of this agreement, the waqf—a traditional “trust” holding land for Islamic religious purposes—controls 81% of the building. This includes the whole of the southeastern section, which lies above the only known entrance to the caves, and possibly over the entirety of the caves themselves. In consequence, Jews are not permitted to visit the Cenotaphs of Isaac or Rebekah, which lie entirely within the southeastern section, except for 10 days a year which hold special significance in Judaism. One of these days is the Shabbat of Chayei Sarah, when the Jews read the Torah portion concerning the death of Abraham and Sarah, and that concerning the purchase by Abraham of the land in which the caves are situated.
The Israeli authorities do not allow Jewish religious authorities the right to maintain the site, and only allow the waqf to do so. Tourists are permitted to enter the site. Security at the site has increased since the Intifada, and the Israel Defense Forces surround the site with soldiers, and control access to the shrines.
A view from the top of the steps on the Jewish side
Praying, reading Scripture
(notice this is a zoomed shot of the last pic)
I was having trouble deciding how I wanted to interpret the above image. I have two more versions here and
here. Tell me which you like best and what you like and don’t like about the various ones.
An Orthodox Jewish lady reading the Scriptures. Notice the Arabic script on the mosque walls.
A wider angle view of the outside. Unfortunately, the IDF soldiers wouldn’t let us go to the Arab/Muslim side, though we tried. So we had to stay on the Jewish side.
The shuttered souk (marketplace)