The Palestinian Authority is deepening its takeover of Tel Aruma, the Hasmonean fortress in Samaria, damaging Jewish antiquities in the process, Regavim reported. On Sunday, a fleet of heavy engineering machinery from the PA and the Beita Village Council paved a road leading up to the remains of the fort.
Some three months ago, an initial path was paved, following which the PA raised a huge flag on the hilltop, which can be seen from miles away.
The Tel Aruma fortress is the northernmost of the eight fortresses established by the Hasmonean Kingdom to protect its eastern border, and its location controls the passage between the Jordan Valley and the center of Samaria. In recent months, the PA has been making significant efforts and investing considerable resources in land grabbing this historic Jewish treasure which, alas, is located in Area B, where the PA controls administrative decisions while Israel controls security.
On March 11, a Jewish group visited the site to protest the destruction of the fortress and was confronted by a crowd of rioting Arabs. Border Police officers and soldiers intervened with live gunfire, tear gas and rubber bullets, one rioter, 15, was killed, and 16 were injured. All of which suggests that erasing this relic of Jewish history from the landscape is extremely important to the PA, whose official line is that there never was a Jewish presence in the area prior to the Zionist Congress of 1897.
And so, in preparation to take over the site, the PA installed beneath the giant flag generators and perimeter lighting, as well as tents which are regularly manned. Senior PA officials even held a ceremony at the Hasmonean fortress which they declared a “Palestinian Heritage Site.” And while they were at it, they destroyed the fortress wall and its water reservoirs.
This is the culmination of a year-long process of ongoing destruction, according to members of Shomrim Al Hanetzach (Guardians of Eternity), the group dedicated to preserving the historic and archaeological sites in Judea and Samaria in cooperation with the Samaria Regional Infrastructure Department.
Samaria Regional Council Head Yossi Dagan said in a statement that “the enforcement authorities must pay attention and do their job. The systematic destruction of Jewish heritage sites throughout Judea and Samaria cannot continue. We demand that the destruction of Tel Aruma be stopped and the relevant entities intervene.”
Shomrim Al Hanetzach coordinator Eitan Melet, who documented the PA’s intentional destruction, called on Defense Minister Naftali Bennett to intervene immediately, saying: “Mr. Defense Minister, you have made a significant imprint in the Ministry of Defense in a short period of time. It is time to establish the legacy that will prove that the State of Israel is guarding our eternity.”
The group has called on the Prime Minister to adopt the National Emergency Plan for the Protection of Heritage Sites which was presented to his cabinet ministers, saying, “It is inconceivable that the State of Israel, which signed international treaties for the preservation of ancient sites, allows the destruction of this site.”