If I was near the Kishle; the old Turkish Fort, I had to go and have a look, especially as I’d read an article about it online earlier that day. Hanitai hadn’t heard that there was a proposal to turn the old prison into a hotel, though it looked like work had already started on the inside, behind its towering walls. In the dark, we could see something was happening as the wind blew a tarpaulin wrapped around a scaffolding tower.
“How luxurious do you think it will be in an old Turkish jail?” I asked him. I couldn’t imagine it ever being anything other than cold in its appearance. “This place, that became a British Police station, where Mandate terrorists were held and interrogated. Goodness knows what these walls have seen.”
He stood by me and looked up saying he hadn’t noticed the renovation before or read anything in the paper. The old prison made me think about Adolf Eichmann, the former Head of Jewish affairs for the Gestapo. He was kidnapped by Mossad in Buenos Aires and taken to Israel. His trial, in 1961, lasted for more than 3 months before he was hanged in Ramle prison.
“Would you like to stay here in a room where Mossad kept Eichmann?" I said. “Where he counted down the days until they hanged him? A 5-star luxury honeymoon suite built on Eichmann’s death row."
“Oh! So this is a proposal then?” He said dryly. “You went round the houses with that one.”
We both laughed and it certainly lightened the mood as we turned around and crossed the road to go to the Arab restaurant.
While reconstructing the prison, a cache of 50 rifles, found in the prison courtyard, was said to have been buried there by the British in the early Mandate days. In the press, the designers had commented that as temporary residents, the British had made utilitarian changes inside the Kishle with no respect for the Ottoman style, making restoration more difficult. This saddened me, but who knows whether the British were responsible for its demise? Israeli Police worked there for 4 or 5 decades after 1948 until they moved to their new complex about half a mile away.