On December 27, Israeli authorities closed Al-Ain Mosque, the oldest mosque in Silwan, as well as a nearby kindergarten and several shops on the main street of Wadi Helwa, in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.
A correspondent with WAFA Palestine New Agency reports that the closure orders were issued on the pretext of “ensuring public safety, due to fears of further collapses after the Monday collapse near the mosque.” (Short video on the latest collapse here, from the Silwan Information Centre.)
Fakhri Abu Diab of the Committee for the Defense of Silwan expressed grave concern over the closures, especially as the cause of these collapses, both Monday’s and the previous ones, is Israel’s ongoing excavation of tunnels under the neighborhood, part of a scheme to connect it to the old city.
[MR: This bizarre project is driven by the powerful Israeli settlers’ organization ELAD, and executed by the Israeli Antiquities Authority, an arm of the national government. For a more detailed look at the Israeli archeological invasion of Silwan, and resistance to it, see chapter 8, ‘Facts under the ground,’ in Our Way to Fight.]
Abu Diab warned that the Israeli authorities intend to close more shops and homes in the area in order to displace its residents and seize the area.
Fakhri Abu Diab appealed to local and international communities to protect the people of Silwan from these dangerous plans.