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Wednesday, March 20, 2024 

Muslims destroy archaeological site

Another sad casualty of the renewed jihad against Israel was an ancient site in Judea:
Dozens of Palestinians vandalized the archaeological site of Umm ar-Rihan, a historic site from the Second Temple period, located on state land in Area C of the West Bank. The Palestinians completely flattened the archaeological site and built a parking lot on top of it.

Personnel from Israel's Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria managed to identify the perpetrators, and they were arrested along with other accomplices. When the incident became known to Israeli authorities, the Civil Administration's Archaeology Unit acted while conducting a covert investigation to identify those responsible for the damages, after which they arrived at the main suspect's house and arrested him. Charges are expected to be filed against him in the coming days.

Umm ar-Rihan was an ancient Jewish settlement dating to the Hellenistic, Byzantine and Roman periods, which was one of the largest in the region. The heritage site is located in the northern West Bank, near the Katzir settlement. The site featured limestone buildings, a watchtower and a mausoleum - an elaborate burial structure.

In 1969, archaeologist Ze'ev Yevin conducted an emergency excavation at the site, and it was also surveyed in the Manasseh Hill Country Survey. Last week, ground surveyors from the Shomron Regional Council arrived at the site and discovered it had been turned into a parking lot. The destruction was documented in aerial photographs of the site, showing the suspects left no trace of the archaeological site that stood there a few weeks back.

"We can't allow the war to turn into an excuse to destroy Jewish heritage sites in the West Bank. An attempt to deliberately erase Jewish history was made here. This is a crime not only against Jewish history and people, but against all of humanity,"
said Yossi Dagan, head of the Shomron Regional Council.

"The remains of a Jewish settlement that stood undisturbed for 2,000 years are being destroyed and crushed right under our noses. This is a testament to Israel's weakness. I demand that all relevant authorities investigate the incident, restore the archaeological site to be paid for by the perpetrator, and allow the Shomron Regional Council to enforce, supervise and help restore and preserve heritage sites in its area. There is no other way today to protect heritage sites in the West Bank," he added.

"While the State of Israel is fighting for its existence, our enemies exploit this vacuum and act to erase our heritage," Adi Shargai, head of the Shomrim Netzach organization working to protect and develop heritage sites in the West Bank, said.

"This is a serious escalation that we haven't seen yet. An archaeological site has been completely destroyed and turned into a parking lot. The identity of the Palestinian perpetrators is known. Israel has a moral obligation to punish them to the fullest extent, including prison time and significant fines," he added.

"Since the start of the Gaza war, we have been seeing increasing attempts to destroy Jewish heritage sites throughout the West Bank, and it's our duty to continue to fight for our history even while fighting for our home," said Heritage Minister Amichai Ayalon.
This is a very tragic case. Why, it even decidedly makes me wonder if the Haredis who're part of the "Jerusalem Faction" really give a damn about their heritage, because, consider: if they wanted to, they could join security forces who could volunteer to take part in guarding ancient sites and even improving them. Instead, they block public transportation, all because they don't want to serve in the military. Such people can't possibly care about their own heritage, and if that's how they're going to behave, then they've practically disowned it.

It's to be hoped the destroyed site can be restored. But IMO, we should all consider those in Israeli society who refuse to do anything to defend these sites, their alleged piousness notwithstanding.

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