IN CASE YOU MISSED IT, on 27 DEC 2022 various Israeli government entities and settler organizations made a surprise announcement: Jerusalem’s lower Pool of Siloam is to be excavated and exposed in its entirety in the coming months, and ultimately opened to tourist traffic. Beginning in 2004, the northern section of the pool has already been excavated and connected with adjoining ancient features — stepped streets, an underground drainage channel and, most notably, Hezekiah’s Tunnel. All of these have been open to tourist access, under settler control, for several years, while the greater (southern) extent of the pool remained in the hands of its longtime owners, the Greek Orthodox Church — until now. Now, based on some supposed “agreement” with the Greeks — as yet totally opaque — the state and its settler agents have forcibly taken control of the place.
So, here’s what the “agreement” looked like on Day One, 27 DEC 2022: https://www.facebook.com/IrAmimEng/ It’s already clear: it’s a story rife with political maneuverings and subtexts. Who knows what surprises await? But it already “smells funny”, frankly. Ir Amim is an Israeli NGO focused exclusively on Jerusalem issues, thus worth tracking as this story develops.
UPDATE / 29 DEC 2022
Here’s more on the many unanswered questions surrounding the highly suspect “agreement” by which one or more settler organizations, sanctioned by the state, have gotten their hands on this property. Granted, the dust has not settled yet–far from it, but the Arab-Palestinian tenant family were summarily evicted from the plot, which they had farmed for generations, even as the authorities gleefully announced the new excavations.
Appearances suggest it’s just one more case of the abuse of “archaeology” in pursuit of nationalistic ends (and ever more tourism dollars). Consider that almost everything that can be known about the pool — its general size, shape, depth, and architectural features — is already known, from the excavation of the northern section. There is very little here that will contribute to “archaeology”.
See this new offering from the Emek Shaveh NGO: https://emekshaveh.org/en/pool-of-siloam/.
There’s more here, with some relevant insights from Israeli attorney Daniel Siedemann with the NGO Terrestrial Jerusalem: https://t-j.org.il/2022/12/07/update-settler-takeover-of-greek-orthodox-church-plots-silwan/ (this was posted online already 3 weeks ago).
Stay tuned, as this post will be updated…