Contributed by Jake
|Announcing the welcoming event|
The Western Wall in Jerusalem is of great historical and religious significance.
Built by King Herod in the first century, the Western Wall supported a huge platform where the ancient Jewish Temple once stood and today serves as the foundation of Islam’s Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock. It was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. and only a small portion of the once enormous retaining was still remains today. Still, it stands some 20 meters (65 feet) high and the cracks between the stones and cavities behind them are preferred nesting sites for the swifts.
|A Swift approaches its nest in the Wailing Wall|
Thanks to his team's efforts, any restoration work done to the wall now must take into account where the swifts nest so as not to disturb them.
|Just back from Africa, a Swift returns|
to its traditional nesting place
They are also looking to set up cameras on the wall with live video feed from the nests to be broadcast online to help raise awareness. And the birds faithfully return to the same breeding grounds, whether it's the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the Bauhaus buildings of Tel Aviv, "By next year we hope to make it into a big international project, in cooperation with the Palestinians, Jordanians and the European Union," Leshem said.
For more information, try these links:
Youtube video of Amnonn Hahn, Yoshi Levi and the mayor of Jerusalem
More press coverage:
A chatty account of the event with photos
TV video clip of the birds and the wall, and an interview with Yoshi Leshem
Photos of the ceremony
BBC video showing worshippers at the wall, Swifts in attendance and an interview with Yossi Leshem
NDTV news feature