Over half a million people visited the Kosel Maarovi during
Pesach, reaching a peak with 40,000 participants at Bircas
The massive crowds at the Western Wall Plaza and in the
access routes leading to it were secured by a large police
force overseen firsthand by Interior Security Minister Gidon
Ezra, Police Chief Moshe Karadi and Jerusalem District
Commander Illan Franko.
The Western Wall Plaza has not seen such a large number of
visitors for many years. Egged made concerted efforts to
accommodate the heavy flow of visitors following requests by
members of the advisory council for the chareidi sector. Many
more made their way on foot.
The passageways in the Jewish Quarter were heavily congested
and there were delays at the gateways due to security
Unusual crowding was reported on Wednesday night when Russian
President Vladimir Putin arrived unexpectedly around
midnight, where he was received by the rov of the Kosel
Maarovi, HaRav Shmuel Rabinovitz. Thousands of visitors,
including roshei yeshivos and admorim, faced long
delays due to the dignitary's unscheduled visit.
According to police Putin only made known his desire to visit
the Western Wall, the Jewish people's holiest site, around
11:00 p.m. Israel Police and the GSS asked that the visit be
kept very brief and that the President remain in his car and
make do with an explanation by HaRav Rabinovitz, but Putin
decided to leave his car and began to walk toward the wall,
only agreeing to keep his distance after security officials
pleaded with him.
Israel Police and Rav Rabinovitz' office apologized to the
public for the long holdups and expressed appreciation for
the understanding shown.
Due to the renovation work at Moghrabi Gate the ezras
noshim was constricted, causing bottlenecks at the
entrance. Following calls to Deputy Mayor Rabbi Uri Maklev
during Chol Hamoed, HaRav Rabinovitz attended to the problem.
There is now a large wooden ramp that takes visitors up the
hill that collapsed this winter after a snow.