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Palestinian festival aims to attract visitors to ancient site

Published: Updated:

With the onset of the holy month of Ramadan, Palestinians in the West Bank launched a festival near the ancient site of Solomon's Pools in a bid to attract more visitors to the area.

The three ancient pools are located south of Bethlehem and surrounded by a forest of pine trees.

The pools were a part of an ancient waterway system supplying water to Jerusalem, named after the Biblical King Solomon.

As Ramadan begins, festival organizers launched the 'Festival of Solomon's Pools nights' at a shopping mall near the area.

During the holy month audiences will be entertained by singers and dancers performing traditional songs.

The aim of the festival is to highlight the importance of Solomon's Pools as a heritage site.

Many Palestinians living in the area, are concerned that Jewish settlers who live nearby are trying to claim the site as their own, and many here are worried they could one day be denied access to the ancient pools.

Many Jewish settlers carry out religious rituals in the area near the Pools.

One Bethlehem resident said they supported the festival as it encouraged investment in the area and attracted visitors.

“We support such an event so the people can visit the Pools, and to invest in the area, to have a nice project for people to benefit from, better than the settlers who want to occupy it,” said Salah Farej.

The three large pools are partly forged into the bedrock and partly man built.

Director of the festival, Majid Eshak, said the aim was to encourage both foreign visitors and locals to come to the area.

“The goal is to bring in the biggest number of foreign visitors possible, in the first instance, and bring in locals to the location and, as we all know, preserve it from the settlers who recently visited the site, and take (water) from it, and try to visit it in a way that isn't correct,'' Eshak said.

Tamara al-Arja, a retailer at the shopping mall participating in the festival, said the event would provide an opportunity for local businesses to launch new products.

“I am very optimistic because we are a nation like each other and we like to support each other, and this is an opportunity to whoever has a new business or new product to introduce it. Ramadan is a blessed month for all and the people are trying to see where there is something new and nice, and the people support each other and I expect that the festival will succeed,” she said.

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, with the month ending with the Eid-al Fitr celebration.