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Tulkarm aims to renovate century-old Ottoman train tunnel

The Ottoman Empire’s Hejaz Railway, initially seen as Sultan Abdulhamid's folly, played a key role in World War I and later in Palestine's history.

TULKARM, West Bank — Under a slope near the Palestinian village of Balaa, in the hills 9 kilometers (5.6 miles) east of Tulkarm, lies a 19th century train tunnel, a remnant of Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II’s ambitions to tie the empire’s capital, Constantinople, to the holy shrines of Islam.

Today, only the arched walls and internal chambers where passengers waited for trains remain, as the rails have been looted several times over by thieves. Yet the tunnel, called Al-Kharq (The Breach), continues to attract visitors.

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