Israeli officials on Sunday saved a rare Second Temple period archeological site in the Jericho area, including palaces of the Hasmonean Dynasty, from potential destruction due to illegal Arab construction in the area.
The Archaeology Unit at the Civil Administration (AUCA) and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) worked together to thwart the threat to the important archeological site, located near Palestinian Authority (PA) controlled Jericho.
During a routine patrol of the site, AUCA officials identified construction vehicles preparing the land for building without the necessary permit to do so. Building materials were also found in the vehicles at the site.
AUCA officials confiscated the vehicles and construction materials. The suspects were detained and brought to the nearby Maale Adumim Police Station for questioning.
The unique archaeological site illustrates what Hasmonean life was like in the period prior to the destruction of the Second Temple. Numerous burial caves can be found in the area, in which three generations of Hasmoneans were buried.
Hanania Hizmi, head of the AUCA, said that Israelis officials constantly work to prevent damage to archeological sites in Judea and Samaria.
“We will not allow the damaging of historic sites in Judea and Samaria. The AUCA works tirelessly to develop and preserve the archaeological sites in Judea and Samaria and prevent the destruction of all the archeological sites in the region, especially the Hasmonean palaces,” he said.
The destruction of archeological findings is commonplace in Judea and Samaria and is often used as a political tool to deny the historical Jewish presence in the region.
In April 2019, ancient burial caves near the Hasmonean Palaces were looted by Jericho Arabs. Human remains were scattered throughout the ancient Jewish burial tombs, and precious archeological evidence was destroyed.
Another example of such practice can be found at Temple Mount, where the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, an Islamic religious trust which controls the holy site, has been bulldozing the earth from the mountain. Many important archeological findings have been unearthed in the discarded rubble over the years.