Press release: Discussion of Objection to Tel Shiloh (Khirbet Seilun) Development Plan

On Monday August 11, the objections subcommittee of the Civil Administration’s Planning and Building Committee will hold a discussion of the 11,000 sq. meter tourism center planned in the Tel Shiloh archaeological site. The plan spans the top of the archaeological tel and the areas around it, encompassing over 300 dunam. It includes an amphitheater, an events hall, tourism and commercial centers, a hostel, and parking lots for 5000 visitors. Although we have no information about the amount invested, there is no doubt that it amounts to millions of shekels.

Works had begun on the site in March, when the plan’s submission was announced. After Emek Shaveh objected and threatened to appeal to the High Court of Justice—as work had commenced on site prior to a discussion of the objections—the local committee claimed that work on the site had ceased. Despite this, in the course of several visits to the site in the last two months, we discovered that construction and development work are continuing. We have submitted numerous objections, and the works stopped a number of times before shortly resuming. At the moment it appears we have succeeded in stopping the works until the Planning and Building Committee of the Civil Administration holds a discussion of the objections next week.

A conference was held Tel Shiloh in late July to introduce the site’s centrality to the Binyamin region’s tourism development. The Tel Shiloh plans appear to be inspired by Silwan, where the ‘City of David’ site overshadows the Palestinian presence, and strengthens the settlement in heart of the village through archaeological excavations and tourism development.

Emek Shaveh objected together with residents of the village of Kariyut, upon whose lands the tel is located. The main claims are based on damage to the antiquities, on the Civil Administration’s obligation to enable the area residents’ access to the region’s major heritage site, and on the face that mosques are located on the site, to which the plan will irreversible hamper access (although no one prays there today, this is a matter of principle). Next to the objection and the legal process, the public and political pressure is central and influential in the struggle against the planning process.

For more information about the new archaeological park and its political meaning, please click here.

To read Emek Shaveh’s report on Tel Shiloh (Khirbet Seilun) click here.

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