The Watch

Ancient Irrigated Terraces of Battir

Bethlehem Governorate, West Bank, Palestinian Territory
Did You Know?
The 4,000-year-old irrigated terraces of Battir, located 7 kilometers southwest of Jerusalem, reflect an ancient route that ran from the coastal plains to the Judean Hills.
A Closer Look

Ancient Irrigated Terraces of Battir

The 4,000-year-old irrigated terraces of Battir, located 7 kilometers southwest of Jerusalem, reflect an ancient route that ran from the coastal plains to the Judean Hills. The rural, agricultural setting is of great ecological and cultural significance and includes olive trees, Roman gravesites, a prehistoric hilltop setting, a diversity of field types, and an ancient irrigation system formed by the continual layering of stones to form terraces. The site is remarkable for its shared use by both the Israeli and Palestinian communities that live along its borders. Coming together to advocate for the preservation of this remarkable cultural landscape, both communities have realized the value of working collectively to protect the site. The terraces of Battir are currently threatened by numerous development plans, one of which is a proposed Separation Barrier that would effectively cleave the site. Resources to manage the property given the increasing pressures on the landscape are also lacking. Inclusion in the 2014 Watch offers a vehicle to draw attention to plans to build over the terraces in the hope that this will be halted in favor of enhanced dialogue, and that a management plan can be initiated to help equip local institutions with the scientific, analytical, and practical tools necessary to conserve and safeguard their heritage.

Since the Watch

In January 2015, the High Court of Justice in Israel froze plans for the construction of the Separation Barrier. This concluded a three-year legal battle in response to petitions submitted by Friends of the Earth Middle East and the Village of Battir. The decision came after the government chose not to reauthorize the 2006 plan for a three-kilometer stretch of the barrier, and subsequently revealed that the plan was not a high security priority. These developments were applauded by local advocates. Meanwhile, in June 2014 the Battir landscape was inscribed on the World Heritage List and on the List of World Heritage in Danger during the 38th session of the World Heritage Committee. The site was presented for inscription on an emergency basis in February 2014.January 2015

Watch Day 2014

Watch Day at the Ancient Irrigated Terraces of Battir was organized by Friends of the Earth Middle East. The day-long event consisted of a myriad of sporting activities, including hiking, climbing, rappelling, and cycling, that highlighted the site's significance and celebrated its declaration as a World Heritage Site. 2014 Watch Day Album

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