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New Israeli excavation near Silwan tunnel in East Jerusalem

Jan. 12, 2014 3:59 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 14, 2014 12:38 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli archaeological teams have recently started new excavations near the Silwan tunnel in East Jerusalem, the Al-Aqsa Foundation said in a statement on Sunday.

The foundation said that its teams had noticed surface and underground excavations near the tunnel, which runs from the Al-Aqsa Mosque to Silwan.

The excavations are the continuation of an Israeli project to build a biblical park in the area alongside the City of David archaeological park, the statement added.

The park will be built on 2200 square meters and will be connected with a network of tunnels Israeli authorities have been digging under parts of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, according to the statement.

In the past, tunnels have partially collapsed and caused holes to open up above them, threatening Palestinian homes, roads, and a local mosque.

Israel frequently permits excavations and archaeological digs in East Jerusalem, specifically around the Al-Aqsa mosque, that threaten the structural integrity of Palestinian homes and holy sites in the area.

In 1967, Israel demolished the 800-year-old Moroccan Quarter of Jerusalem, displacing 650 Palestinians and destroying numerous mosques, homes, and holy sites, in order to build a plaza in front of the Western Wall.

Israel also evicted around 6,000 Palestinians from nearby areas in order to massively expand the city's historical Jewish Quarter.

Israeli officials announced on Thursday that a new archaeological park would be constructed in Tel Rumeida, next to a Jewish settlement in the center of Hebron in the occupied West Bank.

The park is located on lands that were farmed by a Palestinian resident since 1949 as part of long term lease agreements with Jordanian and then Israeli authorities.

Critics charge that Israeli authorities often use archaeological digs to justify the displacement of Palestinian residents under the pretext of searching for ancient Jewish ruins.

The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.
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