Jerusalem’s Gigantic Ancient Pools Are a Remnant of Temple Pilgrimages

Archaeologists have, over the years, discovered a number of very large ancient reservoirs in Israel’s capital. According to a new study, these were built for the benefit of pilgrims who needed water for drinking, and for ritual immersion, when they came to the Temple to celebrate holidays. Yori Yalon writes:

Next to the Temple Mount is a massive cistern named the Pool of Israel, which is over 360 feet long, 111 feet wide, and over 78 feet deep. Between the houses of the Christian Quarter lies the Pool of Hezekiah. . . .

“While residents of Jerusalem had private wells under their homes and the ruling authorities had aqueducts, another solution was needed for the masses of pilgrims,” . . . [says] David Gurevich, an archaeologist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem who specializes in the city during the Second Temple period. “These large complexes are the elephant in the room that researchers have [heretofore] ignored. Even though some of the pools were excavated and researchers suggested the use of individual pools, they ignored the larger picture [of why] these facilities are here. It turns out there has never been another city on the Mediterranean coast with such a large number of similar pools of water.”

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: ancient Judaism, Archaeology, History & Ideas, Jerusalem, Jewish holidays

Israel Should Try to Defang Hamas without Toppling It

Feb. 22 2019

For the time being, Hamas has chosen to avoid outright war with the Jewish state, but instead to apply sustained, low-intensity pressure through its weekly border riots and organizing terrorist cells in the West Bank. Yet it is simultaneously engaged in a major military build-up, which suggests that it has not entirely been deterred by the previous three Gaza wars. Yaakov Lappin considers Jerusalem’s options:

In recent years, the Israel Defense Force’s southern command, which is responsible for much of the war planning for Gaza, identified a long-term truce as the best of bad options for Israel. This is based on the understanding that an Israeli invasion of Gaza and subsequent destruction of the Hamas regime would leave Israel in the unenviable position of being directly in charge of some two-million mostly hostile Gazans. This could lead to an open-ended and draining military occupation. . . .

Alternatively, Israel could demolish the Hamas regime and leave Gaza, putting it on a fast track to a “Somalia model” of anarchy and violence. In that scenario, . . . multiple jihadist armed gangs lacking a central ruling structure would appear, and Israel would be unable to project its military might to any single “return address” in Gaza. This would result in a loss of Israel’s deterrent force on Gaza to keep the region calm. This scenario would be considerably worse than the current status quo.

But a third option, in between the options of leaving Gaza as it is and toppling Hamas in a future war, may exist. In this scenario, the IDF would decimate Hamas’s military wing in any future conflict but leave its political wing and police force in place. This would enable a rapid Israeli exit after a war, but avoid a Somalia-like fate for Gaza with its destructive implications for both Israelis and Gazans. . . .

On the one hand, Hamas’s police force is an intrinsic support system for Gaza’s terrorist-guerrilla forces. On the other hand, the police and domestic-security units play a genuine role in keeping order. Such forces have been used to repress Islamic State-affiliated cells that challenge Hamas’s rule. . . . Compared to the alternative scenarios of indefinite occupation or the “Somalia scenario,” a weakened Hamas might be the best and most realistic option.

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Read more at BESA Center

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security