Titus saw that the Jews were now weakened by hunger. He had his soldiers cut down all the trees in a thirteen-mile swath around Jerusalem in order to build a new rampart for their assault, and they began dragging their battering rams up again. By the end of the month of Sivan, the Romans were once again battering the Antonia fortress, and this time the Jewish fighters did not have strength to resist. In the beginning of Tammuz, the Romans gained the Antonia fortress. Those who had been defending the fortress now retreated behind the high walls of the Temple complex itself. As days passed and Titus saw that the fighters in the Temple complex were still holding out, he decided to raze the fortress and attack the Temple complex directly. On the 17th of Tammuz, the wall of the Temple complex was breached. Knowing the dire situation in the Jewish camp, Titus sent his spokesman, Josephus, to convince the Jews to surrender. The Jewish warriors turned deaf ears to his words and ejected him contemptuously from their presence. The battle now raged in the Temple area. The battle raged for three weeks. The Jewish warriors were starving, exhausted, and far outnumbered by the Romans, but they continued to drive off the Romans. The last battle was on the morning of the Ninth of Av. The Jews fought valiantly, killing many Romans. Many of the structures adjoining the Temple were burnt or on fire, but that morning the Temple itself was still intact. According to Josephus, Titus did not want the Temple to be burnt, apparently because a standing (but vanquished) Temple would reflect more on Rome's glory. It was a Roman soldier acting on his own initiative who, hoisted on the shoulders of another soldier, threw a firebrand into the Temple. Titus tried to put a stop to the fire, but in the chaos, his soldiers did not hear him. (Other historians contradict this account of Titus's enlightened perspective and report that Titus ordered the Temple destroyed.) In either case, before long, the Temple was engulfed in flames. The Jews frantically tried to stop the fire, but were unsuccessful. In despair, many Jews threw themselves into the flames. The Roman soldiers rushed into the melee. Romans and Jews were crowded together, and their dead bodies fell on top of each other. The sound of screaming filled the air and the floor of the Temple was covered with bodies, with blood streaming down the steps. The Romans brought idols into the Temple and offered sacrifices to it. They took the golden vessels of the Temple and killed everyone they found. Before the fire consumed the Temple completely, Titus entered the Holy of Holies and performed the most despicable acts. The still-surviving Jews in the Upper City could only watch as the Temple burned down to the foundations. It burnt well into the next day. When the flames finally died down, left standing was the retaining wall on the western side of the Temple Mount. This is the Western Wall that still stands in Jerusalem today, where Jews over the centuries have gathered to pray.