Constant repair and care
Ramleh War CemeteryREAD STORY
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Weather and stone damage
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You have to look close to see where the scars have been repaired.
Such is the care and skill used by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s (CWGC) teams in Israel, you’d often need to be told where the stonework has been altered.
On the Ramleh 1914-18 Memorial, at the heart of Ramleh War Cemetery, bullet marks from an incident last year by have been carefully restored and filled in. Most visitors would barely notice.
It’s not just the stonework that needs care and attention here. CWGC’s Israeli sites take a beating from the weather.
As with all over the world CWGC tries to use resources responsibly. Solar panels power the latest watering system as it ekes out every last drop to keep the grass green as possible during the pounding heat of summer.
One by-product of the hot weather is the sweet, ripe fruit that adorn the date palms in our cemeteries here – enough to make any European gardener jealous.
The main sites in Israel were first constructed after the First World War. Jerusalem War Cemetery stood high up on the hills on the outskirts of the city, crowned by the Jerusalem Memorial with its iconic mosaic interior – designed by Robert Anning Bell to honour more than 3,000 missing dead.
Today, Jerusalem has grown up around the cemetery. Construction projects have temporarily impacted on the main entrance. Overnight, drug users have taken to using the site, giving gardeners an extra clean up duty in the mornings – all is cleared away quickly enough.
Those who work here are still hugely proud. Nader Habesh, a sculptor by trade, has worked as a mason for the Commission in Israel for more than a decade.
He said: “I feel so proud to work for the Commission. Through our work we have been able to save many pieces of stonework in Israel and Gaza. It’s an honour to preserve these respectful reminders.” And if Nader’s done what he does best, you would barely know he’d done the work at all.