Elad’s stewardship of the national park has heralded a new era of change in the neighborhood. After decades of neglect, the authorities have started a project of regeneration undertaken without the consultation of local people. The work is carried out at the expense of the locals’ quality of life and living space.
Public and private spaces used by residents for hundreds of years have been blocked off and incorporated into the national park, and the municipality wishes to expropriate those remaining for “public needs”. And what are the public needs according to the Jerusalem municipality, in a neighborhood where there are no playgrounds, no public gardens, no sport facilities, few classrooms and no clinics? Answer: parking lots for the site’s visitors.
The neighborhood streets have also been suddenly changing their names: Wadi Hilwah street is now “City of David Ascent”. Dozens of security cameras and armed guards have been installed in the streets and alleys. Palestinian residents have no protection from the settlers’ activity in the neighborhood, and episodes of increasing violence occur between residents and guards who see themselves as law-enforcers.An armed guard walks in Wadi Hilwah
Today the Jewish settlement in Silwan constitutes around 5% of the population of Wadi Hilwah. However, the presence of these 400 people is endangering the way of life of Wadi Hilwah’s residents. While on the one hand many of their houses are slated for demolition by the municipality, on the other Elad initiates numerous projects that limit their living space to further its agenda of changing the demographic reality in Wadi Hilwah. Residents feel unwanted and as if they are being systematically expelled from their homes in the name of archaeology, history and Elad’s crusade for Jewish settlement.
Behind the scenes of the tourist site live people. They should be seen, heard and helped to oppose the injustices they face.
The residents of Wadi Hilwah ask the people of Israel and the world to support their struggle for the right to live in their village as part of a multi-cultural Jerusalem based on principles of equality and peace.