A large group of Israeli politicians, settler leaders and others marched on Monday to the biblical Joshua's Altar site on Mt. Ebal, which is located close to the biblical town of Shechem.
Located in the Palestinian Authority in the Samaria region, the northern part of the West Bank, Shechem is known today as Nablus.
The group numbered around 10,000 people according to Samaria Regional Council
As told in the biblical account, the Israelites built the altar on Mt. Ebal when they entered the Promised Land following the Exodus from Egypt.
The Samaria Regional Council organized the march to protest against UNESCO’s political efforts to equate Jewish biblical sites with “Palestinian heritage sites.”
In addition, Jewish groups have warned that the Palestinian Authority (PA) is trying to destroy the ancient Jewish site. The PA capital Ramallah reportedly plans to build a new neighborhood on the mountain which, if implemented, could effectively destroy and bury the biblical site.
Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan, who led the march to Mt. Ebal, blasted the PA for seeking to distort Jewish history in the land of Israel.
“In the face of the barbaric destruction that the Palestinian Authority is trying to carry out here, all this to erase the connection of the people of Israel to their land and their roots, we stand here and we say – the people of Israel will win. Living in Samaria is not only a privilege to enjoy the beautiful land; living in Samaria is also a responsibility to preserve the sacred places of our history to preserve civilization,” Dagan stated.
“We respect every people, every human being, but the Land of Israel and the State of Israel will exercise our sovereignty here. And in this place on Mt. Ebal, at the altar of Joshua ben Nun, there will be a heritage site worthy of a central place in the history of the people of Israel,” he added.
Settlement and National Missions Minister Orit Struck who accompanied Dagan at Mt. Ebal, vowed that the Netanyahu government “will not stand by” but would, instead, debate about how to best protect vulnerable ancient sites like Mt. Ebal.
The Palestinian Authority has a long tradition of denying Jewish history. PA chief Mahmoud Abbas and his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, have both denied the existence of the ancient Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. The overall purpose of such denials is to question the right of the Jewish people to have an independent state in the ancestral Jewish land.
In addition, the PA has sought and continues to present ancient Jewish and biblical sites as “Palestinian.”
Israel condemned a controversial UNESCO declaration that defined the biblical city of Jericho as a “World Heritage Site in Palestine.”
The Israeli Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem condemned the declaration as “another sign of Palestinians’ cynical use of UNESCO and politicization of the organization” and promised “to change the distorted decisions that have been made.”
Jericho is recognized as one of the world’s oldest cities. It is famous for the biblical story of the Israelite conquest of the Promised Land. However, Jews no longer live in modern Jericho, which is today an entirely Arab town governed by the PA.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.