On Sunday 17 April I took the bus from Beit Safafa to the old city to join a tour in Silwan with Emek Shaveh, an Israeli NGO that, in their own words, works to defend cultural heritage rights and to protect ancient sites as public assets that belong to members of all communities, faiths and peoples.
That day was Easter Sunday for the Catholic Church, Pesach for the Jews and Ramadan for the Muslims. As we walked up to Mount Zion we saw a lot of police blockades, police everywhere and Jewish people walking towards the plaza in front of the Buraq wall. We heard helicopters flying over and we realized it was a tense day to go on a tour in Silwan. During the tour we heard shooting several times.
Silwan is a Palestinian village close to the old city. Silwan is the place where the city of Jerusalem started in the Canaanite period, in the Bronze Age time. This is where the first small settlement was established near the Gihon spring.
Today there is a big archaeological site and a lot of excavations are happening in Silwan. With archaeologist and founder of Emek Shaveh, Yonathan Mizrachi, we walked around the visitor center and the excavations and other parts of Silwan, to talk about how archaeology is used to make claims of ownership and to create a justification for taking over the Palestinian area of Silwan.
There are two settler organizations active in Silwan: Elad and Ateret Cohanim. They use different methods to take over houses from Palestinians and create Jewish presence in the neighborhood.
In this episode you can hear from archaeologist Yonathan Mizrachi that there is no evidence that the palace of King David was built in this area. They have not found anything from the 10th century, the time of King David, although the site is called 'City of David' archaeological park.
If you want to know more, visit their website : https://emekshaveh.org/en
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