Photo Credit: courtesy, Regavim
Reinterment at the Kfar Adumim cemetery

Two Jewish organizations working together with the Binyamin Regional Council district rescued the remains of Jewish ancestors desecrated by Palestinian Authority officials whose primary focus was permitting its workers to operate at a site whose legal status under the Oslo Accords wasn’t even permissible in the first place.

Even had the site been permissible, the officials issued no warnings or cautionary note regarding the delicate artifacts known to be located at the site.

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Ancient Burial Caves, Looted Graves, Scattered Human Remains Found Near Jericho

A circle closed Monday (Dec. 14) that began last year when Regavim’s field activities sparked a unique rescue mission: Volunteers for the “Protecting the Eternal” project discovered the Palestinian Authority had issued permits for agricultural work that resulted in the desecration of the ancient burial grounds at the Hasmonean Fortress of Jericho.

During a hike in the spring of 2019 in the Jericho region, volunteers for the “Protecting the Eternal” initiative discovered a burial tomb from the Second Temple era that had been exposed in the course of construction work – and destroyed. The graves were looted and human remains were scattered throughout the area.

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The ancient burial caves, dating back thousands of years, are part of the extensive burial grounds of one of the Hasmonean palaces uncovered in the area.

Desecrated Jewish burial ground at the Hasmonean Fortress at Jericho

The volunteers found catacombs plundered, the sarcophagi stolen, and human remains that had been at rest there for more than 2,000 years scattered around the site, which was being plowed and steam-rolled.

Regavim alerted the IDF Civil Administration and a rescue mission was set in motion to collect the desecrated remains and reinter them at the Jewish cemetery in Kfar Adumim.

This week, in a moving and powerful stone-setting ceremony, the operation came full circle in a special section of the Kfar Adumim Cemetery that is set aside for the Kohanim of Jericho by the Binyamin Regional Council.

In that section, Regavim and ‘Preserving the Eternal’ marked the final resting place of the Hasmonean royal family.

Bringing the desecrated remains to rest with proper respect in the soil of the Holy Land reaffirmed the unbreakable bond between the Jewish People, the Land of Israel, and Jewish history and heritage — the very things for which the Maccabees, members of the Hasmonean royal family buried in the Jericho Fortress — fought more than two millennia ago.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.