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Latest collapse in Jerusalem blamed on Israeli excavations

Feb. 22, 2010 10:00 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 22, 2010 7:09 P.M.)
Jerusalem - Ma'an - A street collapse near the entrance of the Bab Khan Az-Zeit market in the Old City of Jerusalem occurred on Sunday, as a result of Israeli excavations in the area, witnesses reported.

"A two by one meter deep hole was left following the collapse," Ma'an's Jerusalem correspondent said.

The latest collapse is reportedly related to ongoing Israeli archeological digs around the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which have caused a series of cave-ins around the Old City and in East Jerusalem neighborhoods.

The cave-in follows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to include two sites in the occupied Palestinian territories on an Israeli heritage list, The Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem.

In January, the Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage reported a street collapse on the main road in the area of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem, causing a hole in similar dimensions to the most recent cave-in.

According to the foundation, the collapse was related to ongoing excavations by Israeli authorities in the vicinity, apparently on tunnels extending underneath the neighborhood about 700 meters from the mosque compound. Authorities recently removed quantities of dirt and rocks from under Silwan to undisclosed locations, the statement said.

A second collapse was further reported in Silwan in January, by the Wadi Hilwah Information Centre, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound which creating a 12 meter square hole in the middle of Wadi Hilwah street.

Jawad Siam, head of the information centre, said that the latest collapse in Wadi Hilwah took place over a 10 meter deep tunnel and is was few meters from the previous cave-in in January.

A child was injured and a vehicle fell ithrough the site, Siam said, adding that the local Al-Ein mosque, where Israeli excavation has intensified, was flooded as rainwater seeped into the collapsed site.

The Al-Quds Centre for Economic and Social rights said that this incident follows a number of similar collapses in Silwan recently, pointing out that last year, a collapse occurred in a girls’ school, injuring 17 students.

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