Rain can make people happy, especially in our region where we desperately need any drop of water. Others might suffer from the Weather Blues whenever clouds are seen. In Wadi Hilweh of Silwan (East Jerusalem) the rain makes people worried. Today it has happened again. Several days of rain (and even some snow) in Jerusalem ended with yet another collapse of the land near the mosque, just above the excavation of a tunnel which is part of “the City of David” site. Luckily no one was hurt.
The Collapse near the mosque, 3.3.12 (photo: www.silwanic.net)
Only two months ago, a wall which supported the underground excavation near the mosque of Silwan collapsed and brought the National Parks Authority to close the tunnel for visitors. Luckily there was no tourist or school child at the tunnel at the very moment of the collapse and nobody was hurt. There are so many underground excavations under the houses and streets of Silwan that it sometimes seems that Silwan is riddled with holes. But we do not hear so much about those collapses and holes, probably because the media is only interested when a disaster happens (god forbid).
The collapse today shouldn’t have happened. Exactly two years ago, at the very same place, a similar collapse occurred. The Municipality of Jerusalem (which always reacts after a collapse occurs but dismisses the complaints about dangerous diggings by saying that archaeological excavations do not require permits) sent engineers and ordered the Antiquities Authority to fix the hole and support the tunnel. Few weeks later, the assistant of the Mayor of Jerusalem replied to a complaint sent by residents of Silwan who demanded a thorough examination of all underground diggings in Silwan, and wrote that “the Antiquities Authority informed the Municipality that the danger was removed after supporting the walls of the tunnel and filling in the hole”. Today, two years later, at the same place, it collapses again.
Unfortunately, for the Israeli Authorities, when it comes to “the City of David”, the past seems to be more important than the present. In the name of exploring the history and exposing the findings of ancient Jerusalem, the lives of the residents of the neighborhood may be threatened by dangerous collapses, and under their private homes tunnels are allowed to be dug. In a delicate place such as Jerusalem, only a few dozens of meters from the Al-Aqsa mosque, the management of the historical and touristic site must be done with much more wisdom, sensitivity and responsibility.
Video from the previous collapse at the same place, March 2010:
Video from the collapse in December 2011: