Trending Topics:

Israelis disfigure Damascus Gate with steel watchtower

on 64 Comments

If there were only one place I could visit in Palestine, it would be Damascus Gate. Going down the tall steps to the gate is like going down into a living theater of history. You are enveloped by a grand but not overwhelming architectural space, and the awareness of the flows of human beings come here in belief and humility makes your life seem purposeful and capable of transcendence.

Before you the high wooden doors lead into the Old City and on to the stones Jesus walked in the passion. To the east you can see cypresses on the Mount of Olives and to the north the busy commercial neighborhoods of Wadi al-Joz and the American Colony. And west, uphill, you can make out Jewish neighborhoods of West Jerusalem. You are at the center of the world, and civilization has a deep root here. Magnificent structures rise from rock, and storytellers stand at the gate’s periphery, to contemplate the many traditions and seek to explain our social mysteries.

Then a cartman almost runs you over shouting– for he has a load of spices to bring to the marketplace.

So it was shocking today to see that Israel, an occupying nation, has disfigured the Damascus Gate. Ma’an news reports that Israel has erected a steel watchtower near the center of the gate, so as to police Palestinian activities more vigilantly. Look at this steel wen on the gate’s fine face.

Watchtower at Damascus Gate, from Ma’an News.

It tries to present itself as a gazebo or a bandshell to hide its identity as a watchtower. It wants us not to think of the awful military cylinders that rise over Qalandia and Bethlehem but it is just more grotesque due to the pretension. It is obvious that only soldiers will have access to this tower, so they can target the Palestinians walking by. Because of course it’s all for security, the security of settlers and soldiers.

And there’s no outrage, no report in the Western press– apart from this dispatch at Middle East Monitor. And this comment from the US Campaign::“Israel continues to escalate surveillance and targeting of Palestinians with installation of watchtower checkpoint at Damascus Gate.”

Israeli watchtower at Damascus Gate, erected February 2018, photo by Ma’an.

No official is exercised over the disfigurement of a Palestinian architectural gem (the Old City of Jerusalem is listed as a site “in danger” on the World Heritage Sites). No, it goes to the same account as the looting of the Herodium in the West Bank to justify Jewish occupation, or the coins-and-earrings kitsch of the City of David excavation in Silwan, occupied East Jerusalem, again in an effort to establish Jewish sovereignty over this many-peopled-place. Or the destruction of an ancient Palestinian burial grounds to erect a Museum of Tolerance. No one with any power is going to do anything in the end about Israeli encroachments on Palestinian areas, even as they can’t stop resuscitating the two-state solution.

And of course no Palestinian was ever consulted. Imagine an occupier sticking a military guardhouse in Grand Central Terminal, or in the Piazza San Marco, and think what the New Yorkers or Venetians would do. But Palestinians have to suck it up. Their case is always different. And it only gets uglier at every turn.

H/t Allison Deger, Adam Horowitz, and Scott Roth. 


Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

Other posts by .

Posted In:

64 Responses

  1. wondering jew on February 21, 2018, 2:04 pm

    “Security of settlers and soldiers”.

    Many of the yehudim passing through the Damascus gate (aka shaar shechem, aka bab El amoud), live in Israel proper and are on their way to or from the kotel. Are these people considered settlers by international law?

    • eljay on February 21, 2018, 2:27 pm

      || yonah fredman: “Security of settlers and soldiers”.

      Many of the yehudim passing through the Damascus gate … live in Israel proper … ||

      So they’re tourists to the Free City of Jerusalem. That shouldn’t be an issue.

      Oh, right, I forgot: The Free City of Jerusalem remains under a decades-long military occupation by Israel. I guess that’s what you meant by “live in Israel proper”.

    • amigo on February 22, 2018, 11:26 am

      “Many of the yehudim passing through the Damascus gate (aka shaar shechem, aka bab El amoud), live in Israel proper” Yonh Fredman

      Wherever the hell that is.

      Do you have a map of the week.,

      • wondering jew on February 22, 2018, 2:40 pm

        Israel proper as defined by unsc resolution 242 is the June 4, 1967 borders, aka 1949 armistice lines.

      • amigo on February 22, 2018, 4:49 pm

        “Israel proper as defined by unsc resolution 242 is the June 4, 1967 borders, aka 1949 armistice lines.” YF.

        And where is it,s Capital.

      • wondering jew on February 22, 2018, 6:06 pm

        the location of its capital is besides the point.

        Israel’s capital is Jerusalem. It is recognized as such by very few countries, particularly because Jerusalem was a divided city in 1967 and so therefore half of Jerusalem is occupied territory.

      • amigo on February 22, 2018, 7:09 pm

        “Israel’s capital is Jerusalem.” yf

        BS Yonah.

        I asked you where Israel proper is and you quoted 242 which did not include Jerusalem as Israel,s Capital.

        Now you want to ignore 242 .

        Try ignoring 338/475and 2334 to mention just three which do not recognise Jerualem as the Capital of “Israel Proper”.

        “the location of its capital is besides the point.”yf

        No Yonah , your bs is beside the point.

        Again , where is “Israel Proper ” and where is the Map.

        Ireland has a map and it includes it,s capital.

        France has a map.Ditto

        Spain has a map.Ditto.

        Germany has a map.Ditto.

        All Proper nations have maps.Other wise how would we know when we exit one nation and enter another.

      • johneill on February 22, 2018, 7:33 pm
        even the govt won’t share where the border is, not for security reasons, but because it would ‘undermine international relations’ i.e. make israel look bad.
        also, israel’s capital is tel aviv

  2. John O on February 21, 2018, 2:09 pm

    All along the watchtower
    Princes kept the view
    While all the women came and went
    Barefoot servants, too
    Outside in the distance
    A wildcat did growl
    Two riders were approaching
    And the wind began to howl

    • JLewisDickerson on February 23, 2018, 7:01 pm

      RE: “Ma’an news reports that Israel has erected a steel watchtower near the center of the gate, so as to police Palestinian activities more vigilantly… And of course no Palestinian was ever consulted. Imagine an occupier sticking a military guardhouse in Grand Central Terminal, or in the Piazza San Marco, and think what the New Yorkers or Venetians would do. But Palestinians have to suck it up.” ~ Weiss

      MY TAKE:
      “No reason to get excited”,
      the thief, he kindly spoke.
      “There are many here among us,
      who feel that life is but a joke.”
      🎼🎵 (AUDIO) –

      P.S. Look on the bright side, Weiss. At least there’s no cable car ride making it look like a Six Flags Over Jerusalem Amusement Park!

      • JLewisDickerson on February 23, 2018, 7:29 pm

        “Jerusalem Fast-tracks Planned Cable Car to Western Wall Despite Criticism”
        73 cars, 3,000 passengers per hour: Opponents fear proposal to alleviate Old City traffic would be ‘Disneyland-like,’ subvert public interest in favor of settlers
        by Nir Hasson | | Nov 20, 2017

        Plans for a cable car to the Old City are being fast-tracked by the Jerusalem Development Authority, the Tourism Ministry and the Jerusalem municipality, over objections of its environmental and political implications. The cable car is expected to approach sensitive sites such as the Western Wall and the Temple Mount, provoking strong criticism from the Palestinians and the international community.

        Meetings with residents near the cable cars planned stops have been held over the past few weeks and a public information center has been opened. The project is to be presented to the National Infrastructure Committee in three weeks. Despite increasing opposition to the plan, according to the Jerusalem Development Authority, barring complications, the cable car will be in operation in 2021.

        The Jerusalem Development Authority is presenting the 200-million shekel ($57 million) project as a means of solving the snarled traffic around the Old City. The first phase calls for three stops: near the old train station, at the Mount Zion parking lot and on the roof of the Kedem Center, the planned visitor center at the City of David. According to the plan, each car along the 1.4-kilometer line will be able to carry up to 10 passengers, and 73 cars will operate simultaneously for a total capacity of 3,000 passengers per hour at peak times.

        The system will be automatic – a car will leave every 15 to 20 minutes whether or not there are passengers. The cars will travel at 21 kilometers per hour, making the trip in less than five minutes.

        The cable car will require construction of 15 large concrete pylons, the tallest of which will be 26 meters high.

        In addition to the political problems foreseen due to major objections from the Palestinians and the international community, the cable car is expected to run afoul of landscape preservationists and activists concerned about its intrusion into the Old City skyline. They fear the cable car will turn into a tourist attraction, a Disneyland-like feature, rather than a means of public transport. However, the Jerusalem Development Authority says the cable car will hardly be visible; the cars will not run above the Old City walls but rather alongside them. The cable car will produce fewer emissions than the hundreds of buses it will replace, making it an ecological project, the authority said.

        Attorney Daniel Zeidman, an expert on Jerusalem and a left-wing activist, rejects the authority’s claims. There are four worrisome aspects to this project, he said. Without reference to political matters or religious sensitivities, this is a crime against Jerusalem. Disrespect for the unique value of the city and another example of the disneyfication of Jerusalem under [Mayor Nir] Barkat. Someone who loves Jerusalem could not conceive of such a project. Zeidman also said the idea that someone can send a cable car 150 meters away from the Al Aqsa Mosque is smoking the wrong thing. Thirdly, Zeidman said, the project is another example of how the public interest and the interests of Jerusalemites are being subverted for the good of the settlers of Silwan, with the final station shamelessly at the Kedem Center, serving the narrow ideological interests of the settlers. Finally, Zeidman called the project a clumsy attempt to unify the divided city by means of engineering gimmicks.

        Jerusalem Councilwoman Laura Warton (Meretz) also opposes the plan, saying the pylons and the stations will disfigure the city. Like Nir Barkat said, the real goal is to show whos boss in Jerusalem and complicate any possibility to separate peacefully into two capitals, she asserted.

        The planners argue the system will be able to resolve the traffic problems around the Old City and daily save hundreds of tourist and public bus trips. Tourists who come to Jerusalem for a day or two spend many hours in traffic jams. With the cable car, in four-and-a-half minutes theyll be at the Dung Gate, without burdening the existing roads, an official at the Jerusalem Development Authority said.

        Tourism Minister Yariv Levin has declared the project a national infrastructure project, which means its passage will be expedited by sending it for approval to the National Infrastructure Committee. The committee is to meet on December 13 to hear details of the plan. The Jerusalem Development Authority says it hopes the project will be approved within six months.

        According to the Jerusalem Development Authority, an international firm specializing in such projects will be in charge, although the authority declined to divulge the firms name. A few years ago, a French company quit the project following pressure from the French government, due to its political sensitivity.

        SOURCE (paywall) –

      • RoHa on February 23, 2018, 8:14 pm
  3. Citizen on February 21, 2018, 4:07 pm

    Yeah, that’s some wen. But then, so is Zionism as implemented on the face of humanity.

  4. RoHa on February 21, 2018, 11:08 pm

    “Before you the high wooden doors lead into the Old City and on to the stones Jesus walked in the passion.”

    Maybe. But more probably the stones that were laid down by the Romans when they were refurbishing Aelia Capitolina.

  5. Ossinev on February 22, 2018, 11:13 am

    Ugly structure. Ugly mentality.Ugly people.

    • Paranam Kid on February 22, 2018, 12:08 pm

      You could not have said it more succinctly.

    • Jackdaw on February 25, 2018, 8:52 am


      Another ugly niece just delivered another ugly baby.
      Chew on that.

      • annie on February 25, 2018, 6:07 pm

        babies aren’t ugly.

      • Mooser on February 26, 2018, 11:40 am

        “Another ugly niece just delivered another ugly baby.”

        “Many babes who start out brissed,
        End up anti-Zionist.” (attributed to Anonywitz.)

  6. CitizenC on February 22, 2018, 1:58 pm

    All along the watchtower, Zionists kept the view…

    Agreed on the beauty and centrality of Damascus Gate. Robert Stone’s one novel set in the Middle East dealt with various Palestine threads, and was called Damascus Gate, to emphasize the importance of his themes.

    Here is the history of the Gate, constructed by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th c, on the site of an old Roman gate

  7. inbound39 on February 22, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Like the little white shoe boxes splattering their eyesore looks all over the surrounding slopes of Jerusalem, the watchtower is also an eyesore designed by some mentally impaired architect. Israeli’s have done nothing but ruin a historic land.

  8. Jackdaw on February 25, 2018, 8:49 am

    The world’s shortest watchtower.
    Only in Israel.

    • eljay on February 25, 2018, 1:39 pm

      || Jackdaw: The world’s shortest watchtower. … ||

      It’s well-suited to a “moral beacon” that’s not as bad as Saudi Arabia.

      || … Only in Israel. ||

      Only in Occupied Jerusalem.

    • John O on February 25, 2018, 2:52 pm

      OK. How about the world’s ugliest kiosk?

    • Mooser on February 26, 2018, 12:59 pm

      “The world’s shortest watchtower.”

      They needn’t bother. They’re already babbling.

  9. John O on February 25, 2018, 1:12 pm

    They came after the Muslims and the world said nothing. They’re coming after the Christians and the world says …?

  10. Maghlawatan on February 25, 2018, 2:31 pm

    Israel is a really ugly society and that goes for its architecture which is paranoid especialy in the OT. They took over the land by stealth with towers and nodes conquered slowly – they are a paranoid people.

  11. Emet on February 26, 2018, 2:52 am

    No less than the place deserves. Actually I don’t think it looks that bad. Makes me think of the glass pyramid at the Louvre. Hopefully, if ever needed, it will offer enough protection from those savages.

    • John O on February 26, 2018, 2:02 pm

      Which savages? Name them so that we can hear you. Or are you only capable of showing your cowardly racism sotto voce?

    • annie on February 26, 2018, 2:42 pm

      savages? this commentary is disgusting.

      • Emet on February 27, 2018, 2:41 am

        Is there anything that the Palestinians have ever done that disgusts you?

  12. Jackdaw on February 26, 2018, 9:32 am

    Anybody going to mention the slaughter in Ghouta?

    Thought not.

  13. Jackdaw on February 26, 2018, 11:26 am


    You are as substantial as an old fart in a hurricane.

    • Mooser on February 26, 2018, 1:02 pm

      Gee, you did that without a couple of “Raawwks” in between! Give him a cracker, or a matzoh, he can’t tell the difference.

    • oldgeezer on February 26, 2018, 5:47 pm

      @jackdaw have the sincerity of a criminal zionist who says they want to live in peace.

      Oh yeah… i will add to the list the degree of caring Israel showed for those trapped in syria when they offered to let them cross to Palestine as long as they signed thdir rights away. Humanitarians I tell ya!

  14. Ossinev on February 26, 2018, 1:24 pm

    “You are as substantial as an old fart in a hurricane”
    Being yourself as substantial as a large Zionist dump on a still hot day you have specialist expertise in this line of “debate”.

  15. Kaisa of Finland on February 26, 2018, 6:04 pm

    Here is something to read for the “savages” like Emet and Jackdaw and other readers of MW:

    “Palestinian youth respond to a play (It’s What We Do: A Play About the Occupation) based on testimonies by Israeli soldiers, which portrays the brutality of the occupation from the point of view of the occupiers.”

    • Jackdaw on February 27, 2018, 1:00 am

      Five hundred dead in Ghouta, and still not a peep. Kaisa, I’d think that you’d be moved by Arab suffering, but apparently you are not.

      Ossinev, Old Fart and El Jerk are ‘haters’. Miserable souls that need to feel hate in order to feel something in their empty lives.

      Mooser’s hate stems from his ‘daddy issues’.

      • eljay on February 27, 2018, 9:21 am

        || Jackdaw: … Ossinev, Old Fart and El Jerk are ‘haters’. Miserable souls that need to feel hate in order to feel something in their empty lives. … ||

        This is so sad. Not only are you a hateful and immoral supremacist and hypocrite, but it’s abundantly clear from the overwhelming bitterness of your comments that you’re the one consumed by hate.  :-(

      • Keith on February 27, 2018, 10:43 am

        JACKDAW- “Five hundred dead in Ghouta….”

        This is what happens when the empire tries to destabilize a country using ISIS and al Qaeda as proxy forces. All of the carnage is a consequence of imperial machinations. End the empire!

      • Mooser on February 27, 2018, 11:54 am

        “Mooser’s hate stems from his ‘daddy issues’.”

        ROTFLMSJAO Me and Tony Greenstein.

        “And it has indeed been my sad observation after very many years of professional experience that where sons strive so desperately to dishonour their parents and negate everything they stood for publicly, as you have done so prominently, it often stems from a history of abuse, whether verbal, physical or worst of all sexual.” Jonathan Goldberg QC

        He must be right, he’s had “very many years of professional experience”.

      • Mooser on February 27, 2018, 12:07 pm

        And if the latest polls are correct Jews are terrible, violent and sexually abusive parents.

        We owe Jonathan Goldberg, QC, our gratitude for exposing the terrible abuse by Jewish parents which turns their kids anti-Zionist.

      • inbound39 on March 1, 2018, 6:24 am

        Jackdaw scripted zionist Hasbara ploy designed to deviate the conversation away from the topic because he is losing….diddums.

  16. Mayhem on February 26, 2018, 11:57 pm

    Phil, the color of your money is plain obvious. Did you express any concern when thousands of years’ worth of fragile and irreplaceable Jewish archaeological antiquities were surreptitiously and violently dug up by Arab bulldozers at Judaism’s holiest site, Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, to build an entrance to a subterranean mosque?

    The resulting thousands of tons of invaluable debris – believed to contain over 1 million artifacts dating back to the First Temple period – were then carted off in dump trunks and discarded like garbage to a nearby landfill in Jerusalem’s Kidron Valley.

    Have you ever winced about how the Jordanians destroyed much of the Jewish Quarter (whatever was left after the battles during the siege) between 1948 -1967. They also shelled the Israeli side of the border on a regular basis and Jordanian snipers on the walls of the old city would regularly shoot Israeli citizens walking in the streets on the Israeli side. Even though the 1947 UN decision mandated that Jews would be allowed to visit their holy places, this became impossible under Jordanian rule for 19 years.

    No it’s only what Jews do to defend and protect themselves that bothers you.

    Can’t you recognise your hypocrisy?

    • Mooser on February 27, 2018, 11:51 am

      “Mayhem”, I am very concerned about you. What will happen when you finally face up to the fact that the world is not as philo-semitic as you Zionists assume?

      Watch out for “Arab bulldozers”.

      And while some sites may have hysterical or histrionic interest, there are no “holiest” sites in Judaism. Judaism is a portable religion. We gave up believing God dwells in rocks, mortar, or hovers over a barbecue commanding: “Make Mine plenty rare, and extra sauce please” a long time ago.

      • Mayhem on March 2, 2018, 10:46 pm

        @Mooser, are you planning to apply for the role of MW court jester?

      • amigo on March 3, 2018, 1:30 pm

        Why do you ask mayhem.

        Are you changing careers.

    • Mooser on February 27, 2018, 12:16 pm

      “Phil, the color…/…Can’t you recognise your hypocrisy?” “Mayhem”

      Moderators! Moderators! I beg you, on bended replacement knee, with all my artificial heart; when Phil Weiss reads “Mayhem’s” comment make sure there is somebody with him!!, and all sharp objects have been removed from what common compassion tells us should be a ground-floor room. And if after reading it Phil says “I will now retire to the library…”, grab him and call 911!!

  17. Jackdaw on February 27, 2018, 11:20 am

    Hundreds being slaughtered in Ghouta, as we speak, and Phil obsessives over the size of Israel’s tower,

    ‘Doctor Howard, Doctor Freud, Doctor Howard’.

    • annie on February 27, 2018, 1:59 pm

      jack, i just finished david mizner’s “Syria, Propaganda & Anti-Imperialism 101.” it’s really really good, i highly recommend

      a challenge: see of you can find yourself in it.

      Hundreds being slaughtered in Ghouta

      yeah, like we so get how much dead arabs bum you out.

      • Jackdaw on February 28, 2018, 2:00 am

        I brought up the ‘dead arabs’; not you and not Phil. So on it’s face, I am the most concerned. And I’ve reason to be concerned. With Syria in tatters, Iran is now on Israel’s doorstep and the chances of a regional war are greater than ever.

        The screed you linked looks boring, so I’m not taking up your challenge.

      • annie on February 28, 2018, 3:05 am

        I brought up the ‘dead arabs’; not you and not Phil. So on it’s face, I am the most concerned…..The screed you linked looks boring, so I’m not taking up your challenge.

        too boring eh? well, you wouldn’t have had to look very far, this is the first sentence. i’d say it fits you to a T:

        During the final stages of the fighting in Aleppo, Twitter’s care-more-than-thou caucus was out in full force, blasting people who questioned the claims of the opposition parroted by the MSM.

        that would be you, the “care-more-than-thou caucus”. take a bow.

      • Tuyzentfloot on February 28, 2018, 4:37 am

        I brought up the ‘dead arabs’; not you and not Phil. So on it’s face, I am the most concerned.

        Why does RoHa keep bashing the low to the ground commas while giving the elevated commas a free pass? It’s class justice I’m tellin ya.

      • RoHa on February 28, 2018, 8:19 pm

        Tuyzentfloot,I don’t pay a lot of attention to Jackdaw, so that one snuck past without me noticing. Had I seen it, I would have commented on it.

        It is a point that is not, alas, included in this little lesson.

Leave a Reply