Israeli settlement tunnel in Jerusalem 'damages 80 Palestinian homes'

Israeli settlement tunnel in Jerusalem 'damages 80 Palestinian homes'
Eighty Palestinian houses have been damaged in Silwan and dozens are at risk of collapsing because of a controversial Israeli tunnel project in east Jerusalem.
3 min read
02 July, 2019
Israel has occupied the West Bank since 1967 [Getty]
Dozens of houses in the east Jerusalem Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan are at risk of collapsing due to a controversial Israeli tunnel project.

The neighbourhood's community hub, the Silwan Information Centre, warned dozens of Palestinian buildings in the occupied neighbourhood are at risk of collapse due to the construction of an Israeli settlement tunnel, as a part of the Kedem settlement project.

The Silwan Information Centre warned in a statement that continued digging of a complex network of tunnels under the neighbourhood by Israeli authorities as part of the eight-year-old settlement project is destroying the environment.

The continued digging of tunnels in the neighbourhood has caused large landslides and cracks in several areas across Silwan, especially on the main road, the centre said.

More than 80 houses have been damaged and five houses have been classified as dangerous to live in by the Israeli Jerusalem municipality after their foundations were damaged.

The illegal tunnel is being named 'Pilgrimage Tunnel' by Israeli authorities.

The tunnel, which is dangerous and illegal under international law, has been endorsed by senior US politicians.

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and US Mideast Envoy Jason Greenblatt on Sunday joined an Israeli settler-linked group at the opening ceremony of the tunnel.

Friedman has been a supporter of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, and Greenblatt last week said he preferred to call them "neighbourhoods and cities" rather than settlements.

Illegal occupation

Israel took over mainly Palestinian east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.

It now considers the entire city its capital, citing Jewish historical and biblical connection there.

The Palestinians see east Jerusalem, which includes the Old City, as the capital of their future state.

Some 320,000 Palestinians live in east Jerusalem, while the Israeli settler population there has grown to 210,000.

The Oslo agreement of 1995 divided the occupied West Bank into three: area A, area B and area C.

Area A is under the administrative and security control of the Palestinian Authority. Area B's administration is controlled by the PA, with Israel controlling security. Area C is under full administrative and security control of Israel.

All Israeli settlements across the occupied West Bank are classed as illegal under international law, particularly Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which asserts that "the occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies".

Israeli forces and settlers routinely attack Palestinians in the occupied territories, demolishing their homes, poisoning their livestock and vandalising properties.

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