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The Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall and the Kotel HaMa'aravi or Kotel in Hebrew, is the section of the western supporting wall of the Temple Mount, and is considered the sole remnant of the Second Temple following its destruction in 70 C.E.
Located in the Old City of Jerusalem, the Western Wall, built around 19 BCE by Herod the Great, has become the most sacred spot in the Jewish religion. It was returned to Jewish control during the 1967 Six-Day War, when Israeli troops captured the Old City from Jordan. A large plaza in front of the wall where Jews and visitors could congregate and pray was immediately paved.
Over the decades the wall has been visited by millions of tourists and pilgrims and is often on the itinerary of foreign heads of state who visit Israel. One of the customary traditions for visitors to the Western Wall is to place a small written prayer into one of the cracks in the Wall. It is also where many new IDF conscripts pledge their allegiance to the army and to Israel.
The Western Wall's religious and historic importance to the Jewish people combined with its extreme proximity to Muslim holy sites on the Temple Mount, primarily the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, has been the trigger for many outbreaks of violence since 1967.
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Sparring continues between the Israeli government and leaders from the Reform and Conservative Jewish movements regarding an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall