Elad double tunnel officially openeded in Wadi Hilweh under huge military protection

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Tuesday, 13 September, 2011 | 02:04 « Wadi Hilweh Information Center – Silwan, Jerusalem

Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC)

As part of its City of David project, Elad settler association has dug two major tunnels underneath the Silwan region, compromising the structural integrity of the buildings above-ground and endangering the lives of residents as a result.

The first tunnel stretches underneath Silwan from Wadi Hilweh to al-Ein Mosque and the Orthodox Church. The second burrows under the ground beneath the Old City’s Dung Gate to al-Aqsa Mosque.

Elad has attempted to prevent the media from investigating and publicising the extent of their tunnelling. One reporter to date has managed to gain entry and photograph the tunnels, however.

Elad retains exclusive control over the entirety of Silwan’s ruins and historical sites, in addition to many others throughout the Old City and the rest of Jerusalem.

The tunnels, having placed Silwan’s residential buildings under the very real threat of collapse, have been subject of a sustained campaign by Silwan locals and Israeli and international solidarity activists. The campaign targets Elad’s cynical exploitation of the Old Testament tale of King David, in claiming, without base, that the ruins of his fabled city lies under Wadi Hilweh district of Silwan.

Many activists involved in the campaign have been targeted by Israeli settlers in Silwan, who have on occasion assaulted protesters within a crowd. Settlers are supported by a strong Israeli military presence and intelligence units.

Ahmed [last name?], a resident of Wadi Hilweh, told Silwanic that “it is a total fabrication, to claim that the City of David lies here. It is a political act, to refer to our historic neighborhood of Wadi Hilweh as the “City of David” – as if to disregard the innately Palestinian identity of the area. The land on which the City of David architectural site has been constructed is stolen land, made possible by the discriminatory Absentee Property Law that allows the Israeli government to reappropriate land it deems without an owner.”

Elad’s long and twisted history in Silwan dates back to the 1980s, when its head David Berry, acting as a tour guide, ingratiated himself to members of the community. Abusing residents’ trust from the beginning, Berry gathered evidence regarding multiple Palestinian-owned properties, resulting in their reacquisition by the State and Elad.

Elad, working together with settler group Kuhaneem Atairet, command a private militia of armed settler guards in Silwan, funded by the Israeli Ministry of Housing. One member of the Elad “security” squad was responsible for the murder local resident Samer Sarhan in 2010, while another guard has been implicated in the murder of Rami Ayyad, 17, near illegal settlement Beit Yonatan in Bir Ayyub district.

Settler security squads represent a very specific threat to the Palestinian community of Silwan, in that they do not answer directly to the State (as do police and military) but act with impunity and are authorised to use their weapons at any time deemed necessary, as evidenced by the numerous injuries caused by their use of live ammunition on residents.

Settler security commonly fire on both journalists and Palestinian protesters during demonstrations or clashes in Silwan, using live ammunition. Elad has targeted several local activists, attempting to force their leave from the neighborhood thus facilitating Israeli forces’ campaigns of arrest.

David Berry, chairman of Elad settler association, flanked by police protection and a reporter to one side.

Ruins in Dung Gate yard in Wadi Hilweh

Visitors heading to the City of David tunnels

Horse cavalry arrive to patrol the City of David area

Israeli forces patrol City of David area

Reinforcement of Israeli troops called to City of David

An Elad tour guide


In pictures

Album | Children of Palestine

Album | Apartheid & Violence in Silwan

More pictures in the Gallery Images | الصور

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