Parks Authority extends reach in Wadi Hilweh – Photography

Thursday, 1 March, 2012 | 01:03

Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC)Jerusalem Municipality and Parks Authority officers surveyed the demolished remains of the Wadi Hilweh playground in Silwan on Tuesday, 28 February, in what was seen by residents as a provocative move.

Together with an Israeli photographer employed by ELAD settler group, the officials’ visit to the playground constituted an act of trespassing, given that none had legal permission to enter the private property. One Parks Authority officer stole several tools lying in the playground, and threatened nearby residents with arrest.

The Jerusalem Municipality had the children’s cultural center in the playground demolished some weeks earlier, claiming that it was waste that needed to be removed. The demolition was carried out without showing the land owner an order for the destruction. It would later become known that the order in question allowed only cleaning of space, not demolition.

The Israeli Parks Authority is a key player in the realization of the settlers’ agenda in Wadi Hilweh and the conversion of Palestinian land to a biblical park. Parks Authority chairman Avitar Kuhin was previously employed as an ELAD coordinator, and responsible for Palestinian land acquisition by deceptive means. Another high-ranking ELAD employee and known police informant (with a hand in the arrest of many Silwan residents), known as Shlumi, has recently joined Kuhin in the Parks Authority.

ELAD group is working on many settler construction projects throughout Silwan. The same day that the cultural centre was demolished, the Jerusalem Municipality approved a large ELAD project that will see construction on a 16,000 sq meter area.

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