Relations between Israel and Turkey may have sunk to a new low since the late May raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla, but a renovation project in Jerusalem’s Old City came upon an artifact on Monday that harks back to times when interaction between the two was even less cordial.
The Jerusalem Walls Conservation Project discovered what they believe to be a Turkish grenade, nestled in the shattered stone of the Old City walls beside Damascus Gate, it announced on Wednesday.
Police who arrived on the scene believe that the rusted metal scrap – containing as much as 300 grams of explosives – dates back nearly a century to when the Ottoman Empire dominated the region.
Erring on the side of caution, the police carried out a controlled detonation of the artifact rather than enable further examination.
“They didn’t want to take any chances,” said Yoram Saad, head of the
Implementation Branch of the Israel Antiquities Authority Conservation
Department. He said he had an opportunity to observe and photograph the
grenade, but he did not handle it.
It was a policeman who identified the grenade as Turkish, though Saad
said the team cannot be sure of the grenade’s origin without further
research, now impossible.
The team found the grenade wedged inside a stone that appeared
shattered on purpose – indicating that someone may have sought to hide
the grenade over eight decades ago.
The grenade was found by a team of conservationists working to restore
sections of the Old City walls, a joint project by the Prime Minister’s
Office, the Jerusalem Development Authority, the Antiquities Authority,
and the Jerusalem Municipality.
Saad said that renovations of the Old City have uncovered a range of
artifacts testifying to Jerusalem’s tumultuous history, including its
20th-century transitions. Jordanian inscriptions attest to that
nation’s control of the Old City, while British objects reflect the