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The people hold a festival here on that evening." In 1596, Ayn Silwan appeared in Ottoman tax registers as being in the Nahiya of Quds of the Liwa of Quds, with a population of 60 households, all Muslim.They paid a total of 35,500 Akçe in taxes, and all of the revenues went to a Waqf.The others were Zamzam in Mecca, Ayn Falus in Beisan and Ayn al-Baqar in Acre.Silwan is mentioned as "Sulwan" by the 10th-century Arab writer and traveller al-Muqaddasi.During late years a great extension of the village southward has sprung up, owing to the settlement here of a colony of poor Jews from Yemen, etc.many of whom have built homes on the steep hillside just above and east of Bir Eyyub." By 1910, the Yemenite Jewish community in Jerusalem and in Silwan purchased on credit a parcel of ground on the Mount of Olives for burying their dead, through the good agencies of Albert Antébi and with the assistance of the philanthropist, Baron Edmond Rothschild.
In medieval Muslim tradition, the spring of Silwan (Ayn Silwan) was among the four most sacred water sources in the world.City of David (Wadi Hilweh), an area of Silwan close to the southern wall of the Old City, and its neighborhood of al-Bustan, has been ever since a focus of Jewish settlement.The Ir David Foundation and the Ateret Cohanim organizations are promoting resettlement of Jews in the neighborhood in cooperation with the Committee for the Renewal of the Yemenite Village in Shiloah.Charles Wilson wrote that "the houses and the streets of Siloam, if such they may be called, are filthy in the extreme.” Charles Warren depicted the population as a lawless set, credited with being "the most unscrupulous ruffians in Palestine.” In 1883, the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine described Silwan as a "village perched on a precipice and badly built of stone. There are numerous caves among and behind the houses, which are used as stables by the inhabitants." Modern settlement of the western ridge of the modern urban neighborhood of Silwan, called the City of David, began in 1873-1874, when the Meyuchas family moved out of the Old City to a new home on the ridge called the City of David. Initially shunned by the Jews of the Old Yishuv, who did not recognize them as Jews due to their dark complexions, unfamiliar customs, and strange pronunciation of Hebrew, they had to be given shelter by the Christians of the Swedish-American colony, who called them Gadites.Eventually, to end their reliance on Christian charity, Jewish philanthropists purchased land in the Silwan valley to establish a neighborhood for them.
The move is considered by the international community as illegal under international law.