by Ilana Messika
Israeli authorities reported an arson this weekend (November 12) in the area of the “Tomb of Absalom” and the “Cave of Jehoshaphat.” The site is situated in the Kidron Valley on the eastern side of the Old City, separating the Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives.
The fire reportedly caused serious archaeological damage.
The burial complexes in the Kidron Valley are attributed to the Jewish aristocracy of the late Second Temple period and are considered to be architectural wonders. The national park around the walls of Jerusalem surrounds the Old City, the ancient heart of holy city.
“The findings [of the investigation] point to an arson which unfortunately caused severe damage to valuable heritage values and archaeological jewels,” said Assaf Avraham, director of the national park administered under the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.
“The national park has many visitors but is also, to our regret, often fertile ground for acts of vandalism carried out by law breakers,” he added.
The Israel Police and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority are continuing their investigation, which thus far indicates that one or more perpetrators appear to have deliberately set the blaze.
Both bodies are working on finding those responsible in order to bring them to justice.
Hana Levi Julian contributed to this report.