Silwan, not so ancient part of Jerusalem

At the city of David, the south edge of Jerusalem’s old city has the troubled Palestinian city of Silwan.   I have been here a few times, with great care, just to visit the museum that is there, read more on my previous writings on King David Museum, Hezekiah’s tunnels and Silwan troubles also Palestinian archeologist at Hezekiah’s tunnel

I came across these images from the excellent “Elder of Zion” blog which exposes Palestinian propaganda and their supporting Western friends.

Silwan is nowhere to be seen on this black and white picture which was taken in around 1915, a time where Palestine was owned by the Ottoman Turks and three years later it came under British rule.   So much for what you hear about land being ‘stolen’ in the media so often.   I do feel sorry for Palestinian people who want peace and want no part in any extremism, Silwan is a volatile part of town though.

http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2011/11/city-of-david-then-and-now.html

There is some excellent links to some old archives of photos where you can see parts of Israel in its pre-1948 period from the British Mandate or Turkish periods.

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Palestinian archeologist at Hezekiah’s tunnel

I will add a few more articles on my trip around the Galilee very soon.

I went with some friends to Hezekiah’s tunnel in the City of David museum in Silwan, a volatile Arab neighbourhood close to the Dung Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem.

There is over a mile of tunnels you have to walk through in darkness and in water upto your knees.

I have been here before actually, you can see my original article here.

This plastic pipe seems to be a temporary replacement for the modern drainage system which was removed with this area was dug up.

At the back of the museum is this place, dug up not so long ago.

This places was once a source of water, from the museum web site:-

In June of 2004, municipal workers who were repairing a sewage drain in the City of David were shocked to discover a staircase deep underneath the ground.  Salvage excavations done at the site revealed that the stairs are part of an ancient thoroughfare, leading from the Shiloach Pool – the major water drawing source in Jerusalem from Biblical times, to the Temple Mount over 2300 feet to the north. Excavations conducted by Eli Shukron are discovering the original stones walked upon by the Jewish people as they made their pilgrimage to the Jewish temple most notably on the festivals of Passover, Shavuot and Succoth.

In places, the pavement was broken, revealing an underground drainage channel filled with whole pottery vessels and coins. Josephus Flavius, a famous historian of that period, describes this very place as one where the Jews unsuccessfully attempted to hide during the Roman Revolt in 70 CE.  For over 2,000 years this road has secretly laid, hidden from the world. Today, in the center of Jerusalem, in the historic City of David, we have the unique opportunity to once again reveal this road before the eyes of the world.


Sign here say that this ground on the surface is a cemetery for Arab children.

What surprised me was there was a Palestinian man working in the museum who had a love of history.  Silwan is quite a troubled neighbourhood and often Palestinian groups and their supporters around the world, try to show this part of the world as stolen land, despite the wealth of historical information that shows its been occupied by many different groups of people; Roman, Byzantine, Jewish, Arab, Crusader, Ottoman, British Mandate etc, that have lived here.

This man showed some coins he personally found himself, this coin to the left can be clearly seen as being Roman, the one to the bottom right has a Christian cross on it.

He told us he had his car set on fire by other people in his neighbourhood for working with Jews.   He told us he was not religious and not interested in politics, only liked working at the museum and finding discoveries from past.

  

With the large numbers of Christian visitors that come to this site every day, I am hoping the most of them will be praying for this man, for his safety and for him to find his Lord and saviour.

One we were out the rear entrance of the museum, I found myself in a Palestinian community.

Next to this simple sandwich shop is this fruit tree which I think has plums on it, far from ripe of course.  House opposite has a Palestinian flag on it.   We got a ride back to the main high street in this blue VW taxi van.

Web site of City of David museum and Hezekiah’s tunnel

King David Museum, Hezekiah’s tunnels and Silwan troubles

At the weekend I went around the outer parts of Jerusalem’s old city walls.   Outside of the dung gate, is the south east corner, you head around the corner to see Absalom’s tomb and the Mount of Olives.

Here there is a junction which contains a volatile mix of neighbours.   On the corner is an archaeological dig, containing artifacts that date from King David’s time.   On the same street this is the entrance to the Arab town of Silwan.   This is a much troubled district, and the name Silwan often comes up when there is news of conflicts in this city.

On the news this week you may have seen a picture of a car with a boy in the air upside down in the air having being hit by a car in Silwan after stoning this particular motorist, it seems the Subaru driver sped up or swerved to avoid being hit by the youths.   Seems strange there happened to be someone with a camera who did such a perfect shot of this moment.  http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=190682

A few houses from the corner is this Arab shop with political message outside.

About 3 or 4 more houses across is The City of David museum which has a cinema with a 3D film of biblical history of this place and a guided tour of the buildings and a chance to go under Hezekiah’s tunnels.  I went here last year its well worth a visit.   The tunnels are a mile long of walking – in complete darkness; and, upto your knees in water. 🙂   I didn’t get a picture of the exact front part of this as there armed guards in front.   But looking through the windows you can see the nice decorations outside.

Looking behind back to the old city walls and there are about 40-50 soldiers in uniform getting off a bus.  (not visible, but just around the corner)  Glancing back to the museum front, there is a lone security guard, armed, but unusually (that I have never seen someone holding a handgun out of a holster) he has a pistol in his hand.   Again, I glance down the street to see a group of Arab kids gather outside a shop.  There is nervousness on both sides and the police and army are on alert from recent troubles.

Below you can see the green flag which has a logo representing Israel’s national parks and historical places.  Heading down this street as a foreigner to see the museums is safe but because extra security measures in place, but just a short distance down here, not past the museum where this barrier is.   Beyond this there are rowdy children throwing rocks at the fence where the historical digging is, there is rubbish everywhere and some of the cars look vandalised.

But here in the unpredictable middle east, throwing rocks can be a prelude to starting a war where each side retaliates.  This is one of the many contested bits of property here, ironic given the historic sites and archeological digs that showed who lived here long ago.

I can’t emphasise enough “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” and I do feel sorry for the Arab people that live here and are given different messages by different authorities, I hope and pray that Arab people will find their way out of darkness of the regime that governs them (Hamas and Hezbollah)  into the loving arms of the Father.

Through East Jerusalem

Rode through a bit of East Jerusalem, from the back of my house northwards on sunday.

This part here with zigzag bends was good fun to ride around.

Was a mistake as realised this particular part of town was not safe, I often pass through smaller Arab sections, this was definitely the worse part of this country I have been outside of a car.

To start I went down a very very steep road, as I was hoping to go on the opposite side of the Peace Park, but I was quite some place from there.

Around the main centre bit of East Jerusalem there was a rubbish bin on fire.  I am always seeing bins on fire, seems like people have nothing better to do that burn stuff.  I asked some kids if they had called the fire service which they said they had.   I turned down another road and saw three different army jeeps patrolling around.

Suddenly noticed the kids (young Arab kids always say Hello to me)  were not so friendly, a large coke bottle landed  few metres away from me, not sure where it came from, but they teenagers were throwing rocks at me, so I walked the bike up the hill quick (its too steep to ride upwards)

I notice this part of town is a complete hole.  All the cars appeared to be vandalised and there is masses of rubbish absolutely everywhere.   The media says Israel needs to be kinder to the Arabs and Palestinians but how can you help people that more or less choose to live like this.  Once I reached safe-ish distance you can see this red VW Jetta had all the windows broken as well as at least 4 other cars further down.   By the way I am on the Israeli side of concrete barrier here, so these people have more freedom than East Jerusalem on the other side of the wall.


Anyway after another mile or so through the old city I arrived at the Zion Gate.  Glad to be in a nicer place.  Note the bullet holes in the wall date from 1948, the country’s modern formation.  Will bring my map with me next time.