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J-Post: Court to hear petition on Silwan digs

By Elana Kirsh

To view original article, published by the Jerusalem Post on the 18th June, click here

The High Court of Justice in Jerusalem will hear a petition on Wednesday on the issue of archaeological excavations being carried out in tunnels under the village of Silwan.

According to Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR), the National Parks Authority gave almost all control of one of the most important and sensitive archaeological sites in the area to the non-profit organization Elad, a group which operates exclusively at the City of David archaeological site. Technically, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) carries out excavations at the site; however the Elad group organizes and finances them.

The IAA excavated a tunnel under land and houses of residents of Silwan in recent months, and RHR claims that the digs were carried out without residents’ awareness, causing damage to houses and roads, and disregarding residents’ rights.

The Jerusalem Post was unable to obtain a comment on the claims from Elad.

Residents of Silwan will tell the High Court that that the excavations are against the law and request that the IAA desist from further excavations until an appropriate solution is found.

The central question, according to RHR, is whether the High Court of Justice will authorize a decree to freeze the digs.

RHR stressed in a press release that specialists inspected the site, and confirmed that damage to houses was caused as a result of the excavations.