Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, the chief rabbi of the Western Wall--also known as the Wailing Wall--said Wednesday the water stain was discovered four days ago by worshippers who pray at the base of the wall. Some Jewish mystics believe it is a sign the "wall is crying," signaling the coming of the Messiah, he said.
Rabinovitch and the Israel Antiquities Authority are closely watching to see if the 10-by-40 centimeter (4-by-10 inch) stain--found on a stone about halfway up the wall - grows or disappears. The two men who attempted to climb the wall on Tuesday were escorted away from the area by police, he said.
Rabinovitch said he has contacted the Waqf, the Islamic trust that oversees the compound that rises about the Western Wall. Muslims call the compound, which includes two large mosques, the Haram al-Sharif, the third holiest site in Islam.
Jews call it the Temple Mount, the site of the two ancient biblical temples. The Western Wall is the last remaining remnant of the Second Temple, destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. "It could be that the leak comes from the Temple Mount," Rabinovitch told The Associated Press. "We have to check if it is a leak from pipe or a water well, because the Temple Mount is full of (underground) water wells."
Adnan al-Husseini, a Waqf official, denied Israeli officials had contacted him. "The Israeli side has never informed us about any damage," al-Husseini said. "According to our beliefs, this wall is part of the Haram walls, and we are very concerned about it."
Non-Muslims have not been allowed to enter the mosque compound since September 2000, when the Palestinian uprising erupted a day after Ariel Sharon, now Israel's prime minister, toured the compound, angering many Muslims. Tensions surrounding the site have lead the Israeli Antiquities Authority to be cautious about contacting the Waqf.
Osnat Guez, the authority's spokeswoman, said the stain has not grown since officials first noticed it Saturday. Rabinovitch said this could be a sign of an ongoing leak, because otherwise the heat would have dried the water. "We promised to deal with this and to find the source of this," Guez said. "It's possible that it will dry up and disappear we don't want to begin looking for problems that may not exist."