The Israeli government announced it is planning to finally protect ancient Jewish archaeological sites in the West Bank. A plan to fund, develop and protect Jewish archaeological sites in Area C of the disputed territories is set to be approved on Monday.
The West Bank, also known as Judea and Samaria, is home to more than 3,000 antiquity sites, with 80% of them located in Area C, which is under the military and civilian control of the Jewish state.
The Prime Minister’s Office stated that the region of Judea and Samaria has significant international, national historical and archaeological importance but that the archaeological sites have been damaged in recent years.
“In the last years, we have witnessed increasing damage to archaeological sites in Judea and Samaria as a result of antiquities theft, illegal construction at the archaeological sites and a deliberate policy by those who are hostile to the State of Israel,” the Prime Minister’s Office said, adding that, “Some 1,000 sites have already been damaged.”
Several organizations, such as the NGO Regavim and the archaeological group Shomrim Al HaNetzach, have warned of some Palestinian groups that have been destroying archaeological sites, hoping to destroy proof of the historical links between the Jewish people and the land of Israel.
In July 2022 Palestinian rioters vandalized and set fire to parts of ancient Samaria National Park located about 33 miles north of Jerusalem in the West Bank.
Biblical Samaria was the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel in the 9th and 8th centuries B.C. It was the second most-important city after Jerusalem, which was the capital of the southern kingdom.
The government’s new plan to fund and protect Jewish archaeological sites is a follow-up to the 2010 National Heritage Project, intended to preserve sites of cultural, religious and historical significance of the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, both located in the West Bank. Rachel’s Tomb has been violently attacked by Palestinians on several occasions in recent years.
Under the new plan, archaeological sites such as the remains of a palace owned by the Maccabean High Priest Yohanan, which became King Herod’s winter palace, will reportedly be protected.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.