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Tuesday March 2, 2010 11:51 AM (EST+7)
New ground collapse in Silwan as mayor readies plan

Read more: Silwan, Beit Yonatan, settlements, East Jerusalem, Jerusalem, archeology, ground collapse

RAMALLAH, March 2 (JMCC) - A wide swathe of earth caved in Monday in Silwan, as residents brace for municipal plans to strategically alter their neighborhood.

Excavations underneath the Silwan neighborhood have weakened the area, making it vulnerable to collapse, residents say. On Monday afternoon, a five meter by 15 meter swathe of earth collapsed inward near the Ein Mosque after days of heavy rain.

Witnesses said that no one was hurt and that the area was roped off to passersby. This is the fifth such collapse in Silwan in two months.

The settler organization Elad has been conducting controversial excavations underneath resident's homes in the neighborhood adjacent to the Old City, searching for evidence of early Jerusalem.

Silwan is also the target of construction plans to be announced Tuesday by the city's mayor, Nir Barakat, reports the Jerusalem PostAccording to the New York Times, over 100 Palestinian homes will be leveled and rebuilt, their residents given new homes in a housing project that will be planned for Jewish development and integrated with an archeological park.

The plan will allow for retroactive planning approval for Beit Yonatan, an illegally constructed Jewish settlement in the area, as well as a remaining illegally-built 100 Palestinian homes.

The scheme has been met with protest from some Israeli groups.

Demolishing houses in Al-Bustan neighborhood to clear the area for an archeological garden will be a dangerous step, which could ignite one of the most volatile areas, and damage the stability and political future of the Jerusalem, warned Ir Amim on Tuesday.

Silwan is considered part of the 'holy basin', an area ringing the walled Old City that has been targeted for Israeli expansion and development.

Israeli plans to demolish all 200 Palestinian homes to make way for the archeological park were scuttled after US criticism.

The mayor's announcement will be made one week after the Israeli cabinet announced it would be renovating two shrines in the occupied West Bank, setting off Palestinian protests that spread to Jerusalem.







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