Silwan retaining wall collapses as a result of Israeli excavations
Published Wednesday 26/02/2014 (updated) 26/02/2014 22:04
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- A large retaining wall collapsed on Wednesday morning in the Wadi Hilweh neighborhood of Silwan south of the Old City of Jerusalem as a result of Israeli excavations, a local group said.
Director of the Wadi Hilweh Information Center Jawad Siyam told Ma'an that residents were awoken at 3 a.m. by the sound of the wall's collapse.
Siyam said that the wall is 15 meters long and three meters high, and four houses belonging to al-Taweel, al-Salaymah, Badr and al-Jaabari families sustained damage as a result of the collapse.
Siyam highlighted that the Israeli authorities excavated a network of tunnels under Wadi Hilweh running to the Western Wall.
Prior to the wall's collapse, local residents had told Siyam that they heard the sounds of heavy duty machines digging under their houses throughout the night.
An Israeli organization called Gilad is reportedly in charge of the excavations, which have repeatedly caused cracks in Palestinian homes in Wadi Hilweh.
New excavations beneath the neighborhood to expand a network of tunnels that extend to the Old City began in January.
Israeli authorities had previously announced a plan to build a Jewish history park in the Palestinian neighborhood, and on Feb. 18 the Wadi Hilweh Information Center said that seven families had received eviction notices for the project.
In the past, tunnels have partially collapsed and caused holes to open up above them, threatening Palestinian homes, roads, and a local mosque.
Israel frequently permits excavations and archaeological digs in East Jerusalem, specifically around the Al-Aqsa mosque, that threaten the structural integrity of Palestinian homes and holy sites in the area.
The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.