NIS16m for Jerusalem “national park” 26Aug13 August 26, 2013

Alternative Information Centre    -    25 August 2013

SilwanHaaretz reports that the investment will include “building wide walkways, archaeological digging and other development,” in addition to construction of a “functional model”, a “video exhibit” and an “exhibition tunnel”.

Israel has privatized management of the “City of David” National Park to the Elad Association, a wealthy settler-affiliated organization with donations of some EUR 9.3 million in 2008. Elad’s work in Silwan is overseen by the Nature and Parks Authority and the Antiquities Authority.

Half of the project’s cost will come from the Prime Minister’s Office and another NIS 5 million from the Tourism Ministry. The Jerusalem municipality will add an additional NIS 1.4 million while the remaining funds will come from private donations.

Jerusalem Deputy Mayor and financial committee chairman, David Hadari welcomed the decision. “There will be no compromises concerning Jerusalem, we must continue to build and develop all parts of Jerusalem,” said Hadari.

The City of David Visitor’s Center is ranked among the top five tourist attractions in Israel, growing from 25,000 visitors in 2001 to 350,000 visitors in 2008. The Ir David settlement is being built alongside the archaeological sites. 

Silwan’s Wadi Hilweh Information Center denounced these planned works already last December, stating they come primarily to complement the Judaisation of the neighbourhood. A Silwan committee further asked why Israel “is not making necessary repairs to streets and alleys in the neighbourhood in which people live? Why not complete the repairs in the many alleys not used by settlers?”  

The archeological diggings in Silwan are conducted in tunnels under the homes of the village residents. The diggings have already resulted in a collapse of portions of the village road.  Alongside the digs, the “City of David” settlers have conducted a campaign for the past two decades to take over Palestinian homes in the village. The Israeli settlement in Silwan receives complete backing from Israel, which provides private security for the settlers at a cost of tens of millions of shekels yearly. The security guards act violently toward the residents of Silwan, often shooting at them with live fire. On 22 September 2010 a private security guard fatally shot Samer Sarhan, a resident of the al Bustan neighbourhood of Silwan.

Silwan sits just south of the Old City walls in East Jerusalem. It counts 55,000 residents, 50 percent of whom are below the age of 18. 75% of these children are estimated to live below the poverty level.

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