Cemetery of Walls – Israel’s best (unofficial) open museum

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It was a nice sunny Saturday when I visited Petah Tikva Museum of Art, and was welcomed by this massive wall of what seemed to be a bathroom.

I then learned that the wall was brought by the artist Ella Littwitz for her installation which dealt with the concept of “home” and its interrelations with place and setting. The wall was brought from a distant site located near the border triangle of Israel – Egypt – Gaza Strip. A place called “The Cemetery of Walls”. I was too curious. Immediately after visiting the exhibition and doing some research on the Internet, I embarked on a two hours drive to that site.

And these were the first sights I encountered…

The site is known also as “Yamit walls”. Yamit was an Israeli settlement founded in the Rafah Plain region of the Sinai Peninsula, following its occupation in the Six Days War in 1967. It was established in 1973, and was planned to be the third largest coastal city of Israel (after Tel Aviv and Haifa) with a population exceeding 200,000 people. Residential houses of Yamit were made of prefabricated parts, for quick establishment (and dismantling…). In this link you can see archive photos showing some of these houses.

But geopolitical developments in the region left the big plans on paper. Following the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, Yamit was evacuated in 1982. In its heydays only 2,500 people lived there. Following the evacuation, the prefabricated walls were brought to Israel and placed in an open area in “Hevel Shalom”, not far from the border with Egypt. The walls were never reused, and have been lying peacefully for years.

As I strolled among the walls I felt something unique about this place. An awkward feeling of a living monument. This particular wall is actually a face looking left with a beard, and a real stellion enjoys the sun on a wall beneath a doorway.

The stellion is not the only resident of dismantled relocated Yamit. Beneath the town there is an underground network of tunnels and caverns teaming with life.

And looking up from this ants colony, the stacked walls seem like a row of real houses.

Or maybe these are books on a shelf

I looked for other signs of life. Interior stuff. These drawers were the only sign I could find

But I didn’t need much to imagine life here. These walls invite me to enter

This wall invites to cook and then wash dishes

and that one calls for a shower

Some people replaced the standard white tiles to more vivid versions

and even the walls have a cozy texture

Details can still be seen, such as this gutter

intestines / stitches

and electricity point

Not only fauna dominates the site, but also flora has its word swallowing the remains

or maintaining relationships with them

The sun contributes its part providing a warm feeling

The stacks of walls are truly impressive

This is by far the best (unofficial) open museum in Israel. So successful, you can feel as if you are walking in a living settlement. Not only it is a monument to place and people, but also a mesmerizing unplanned installation, and a macabre representation of the pretentious Israeli settlement policy.

Not only prefabricated walls can be found on the site, but varied ruins of a town.

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