The Palestinian village Silwan in East Jerusalem is situated about a hundred metres from the Temple Mount/Haram el Sharif. It is home to 40,000 Palestinians and almost 400 Jewish settlers. The village also hosts a large archaeological site called the “City of David”.
The past few months have seen an escalation of violence between the settlers, Palestinian residents, Israeli activists and the police. On several occasions, structures and fences within the archaeological site have been burnt down. Sections of the site are now closed to visitors on Friday, a day particularly prone to clashes.
Ancient artefacts may seem like an unlikely flashpoint for conflict, but both sides are using the remains of the past to legitimate their claims for sovereignty over Jerusalem. Silwan, which was occupied by Israel in 1967, is arguably one of the most sensitive locations in Jerusalem. Moreover, the fact that the City of David site is jointly administered by the Israeli authorities and a Jewish settlers’ organisation has placed its archaeological remains at the centre of the present-day national struggle. Read more