Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Row Over Water Bill

And their bank account blocked:

Standoff over unpaid water bill could result in closure of revered church believed to be site of Jesus’s crucifixion and burial.

The Guardian:

One of the most venerated sites in the Christian faith, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus is believed to have been crucified, buried and resurrected, is facing a financial crisis over an unpaid water bill in a row that could result in its closure.

The church, which attracts more than 1 million pilgrims each year, has been issued with a 9m shekel (£1.5m) water bill, backdated 15 years to when the supply was taken over by a new company, Hagihon.

As a result of the church’s failure to pay, Hagihon has secured the freezing of the bank account of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, which is jointly responsible for the church’s administration.

The standoff was confirmed by the spokesman for Theophilos III, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, following a report in the Israeli paper Maariv. “It is completely true,” Issa Musaleh told the Guardian. “They have frozen our account. This is a flagrant act against the church.”

According to Maariv, the move has resulted in standing orders being rejected and cheques bouncing. Services which have been affected include telephones, internet and electricity, as well as companies supplying food.

“The church is completely paralysed. We can’t pay for toilet paper. Nothing. Hagihon has declared war on us,” a Patriarchate official told Maariv…

Read on here.

Thousands of Christian pilgrims and tourists jostle each day inside the gloomily lit spaces beneath the church’s dome. Despite the chaotic queues for the most revered sites within the church and the cacophony of chanting priests, tour guides and camera-clicking tourists, for many it is a deeply emotional and spiritual experience.

The original church was built on the site of Jesus’s crucifixion, which was then outside the city walls, in the fourth century.



Springs in Judean Hills Drying Up

From Haaretz:

Springs in the Judean Hills that were the basis for agriculture as far back as the Second Temple era are drying up due to successive drought years and have become polluted, according to a study carried out this year.

The study, conducted this spring by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority under the direction of the Water Authority, was the first of its kind in 30 years. It included 67 of the almost 90 springs in an area from Jerusalem in the east westward almost to Beit Shemesh.

Water quality and quantity, as well as the area surrounding each spring, were examined. The survey included the Sataf, Ein Hindak and Ein Lavan springs, all popular hiking spots, as well as the spring in the center of Abu Gosh.

The surveyors found water in only two-thirds of the springs. Of the springs with water, the flow rates were lower than in previous years and in one out of three springs the water quality was poor or fair.

The surveyors pointed to several consecutive low-rainfall years as the main reason for the low water levels.

Six of the past eight years met the criteria for drought years. Last winter, for example, saw only 60 percent of the average annual rainfall in the region.

The article also describes the impact of human activities on the springs and reports that last year the terraced fields of the Judean hills were recommended as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Source:   Bible Places Blog

Bible Archaeology

Sea of Galilee Water Level Inching Towards the Black Line

The water level in Lake Kinneret, the Sea of Galilee, has dropped by nearly 11 inches in September alone, inching toward the black line.

Arutz Sheva reports:

The water level in Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) dropped by nearly 11 inches in September, according to environmental officials.

The unhappy news follows Israel’s standard hot, dry summer which began with the water level standing at 16.9 inches above the “red line,” 213 meters below sea level.

The lake’s water level has now dropped to 16.9 inches below the red line, the recommended level at which water should no longer be drawn from the lake. The level is also only 56.9 inches away from the “black line,” 215 meters below sea level, beyond which it is dangerous to pump water from the lake.

Salt springs at the bottom of the basin suppressed by the heavy water pressure above could salinate Israel’s only sweet water source if water were to be pumped at that point.

The water level of the lake came perilously close to reaching that level on December 11, 2010, when it descended to 214.12 meters below sea level. The lowest level ever reached by the lake in modern times occurred on November 29, 2001, when it reached 214.87 meters below sea level.

During the winter, it seemed as though the winter rains might just be enough to replenish the water supply in the lake, which serves as a massive reservoir for the country.

The Kinneret is 47 meters deep at its deepest point. It is fed by rainwater from various streams in the Galilee and Golan Heights, such as the Jordan River, Nahal Meshushim, Nahal Amud, Nahal El-Al and Nahal Yehudiya, all of which are often augmented in winter by melted snow from Mount Hermon.
In March, the water level finally reached the the red line, and environmentalists breathed a sigh of relief, believing the worst was over.

But there was not enough rain to make up for five years of drought. When the traditional switch from the seasonal prayer for dew to the seasonal prayer for rain comes this Simchat Torah, Israelis will add a special passion this year to the service.

Bible Archaeology

New Water in Jerusalem

The largest underground water source has been discovered in Jerusalem:

An underground water source discovered recently near the Jerusalem International Convention Center is, experts say, the largest subsurface water resource ever discovered in Israel.

The source was discovered 75 meters underground while workers were laying groundwork for the high-speed Tel Aviv-Jerusalem railway.

The cave appears to have developed after water seeped in from the surface and dissolved the underlying limestone

“The cave is the largest and most impressive underground water channel ever discovered in Israel,” Prof. Amos Frumkin of the Hebrew University told Channel 2 News.

Frumkin said the water channel can be preserved without compromising infrastructure projects for the railway route.

Really good new this…

Bible Archaeology

Water in the City of David

Piece by piece, the ancient water system leading to Jerusalem is being revealed in the City of David.

Here in Israel, we are well-versed in the need to protect our scarce water sources from contamination, and we’ve built the National Water Carrier in order to ensure that all of the country’s citizens have running water at all times. But what about ancient times? How did the denizens of biblical Jerusalem retain access to water throughout the year — and especially in wartime situations — when their main water source lay outside the walls of the city?

As Danny Herman explains in the video, the Bible tells us that when King David conquered the city of Jebus and made it into his capital, he exploited the city’s only weakness — a mysterious “pipe” that led water from the valley, under the walls and into the city…

More in the Jerusalem Post here.