The Mystery of Jerusalem’s Cave Synagogue

For many decades, historians and archaeologists have argued about the location of the “cave synagogue,” known only from medieval texts. Now they many have finally found it, writes Nadav Shragai:

The only part of the synagogue’s story about which there is consensus took place in the first half of the Hebrew month of Av [July or August] in the year 1099, when Jerusalem fell to the Crusaders. Jews and Muslims fought shoulder-to-shoulder for the city, but were eventually defeated, and the Crusaders slaughtered the residents of Jerusalem. . . . According to Gilo of Paris, a 12th-century poet, the Jews took the lead in defending Jerusalem and were the last to fall. The Muslim historian Ibn al-Qalanisi says that the Jews of the city fled to the Cave Synagogue, where the Crusaders burned them alive, a story corroborated by the 12th-century Arab writer Sibt Ibn al-Jawzi.

The archaeologist Dan Bahat, who excavated and researched the Western Wall tunnels, thinks that he has discovered the location of the Cave Synagogue. He believes that it lies “in the area of Warren’s Gate,” underground, which is why it is known as the “cave.” Warren’s Gate is named after the English researcher Sir Charles Warren (1840-1927) and is one of four gates that in the Second Temple era led from the Western Wall to the Temple Mount. In the past, it opened to a tunnel that was dug eastward under the Mount and ended in stairs leading up to the Temple Mount plaza.

Bahat thinks that in the early Muslim period (638-1099) the Jews of Jerusalem established their main synagogue near the gate because of its proximity to where they believed the [Temple’s] Holy of Holies was located beneath the Dome of the Rock.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Crusades, Jerusalem, Synagogues, Temple Mount

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security