Illegal construction destroying Jewish Quarter

Friday, December 08, 2006 |  by Staff Writer  

With the wave of illegal building in the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem, the Ministry of Interior said the construction is causing damage to 2,000 years of Jewish presence.

The Jewish Quarter is the only place in the world where some homes have 2,000-year-old foundations, which lay on top of the remains of houses of priests from the Temple period. It is also the only place in the world where shops operate in the same location of shops from 1,000 years ago.

“In place of the national religious community, Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) families with lots of children have moved in,” said Ruth Yossef, manager at the Ministry of Interior.

Jewish Quarter homes are old and small and so these large families have taken upon themselves to expand their homes and rooms, which has led to illegal construction.

The Interior Ministry, meanwhile, is seeking to establish a master plan with building guidelines, to expand homes and at the same time refrain from causing further damage to the Jewish Quarter.

“We understand that residents of the Quarter suffer from lack of space, but we will only allow construction that will not damage the historic texture of the Quarter,” said Yossef. “The illegal building must stop.”

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