Photo Credit: Regavim
Arab home illegally built on ancient archaeological site.

An Arab family has invaded an archaeological site in northern Samaria and has turned it into its residence, the Regavim movement reported, demanding that the IDF’s Civil Administration act immediately to remove the squatters.

The archaeological site, situated near the town of Hermesh in northern Samaria, is a declared archaeological site called Hirbat Parsin, which preserves the biblical name Parash, descendants of the tribe of Menashe, and the Talmudic name Kfar Parshai.

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The site contains the remains of a large settlement that existed almost continuously from the Iron Age to the Ottoman period.

Among the remains are mikvahs, ritual baths, which were hewn in the days of the Second Temple and were used until the Byzantine period, burial caves, an oil press, underground systems, and impressive structures from the Ottoman period.

This important site has recently joined a series of archaeological sites suffering from damage and destruction. Parash has never been excavated by archaeologists but it has been thoroughly and aggressively excavated by local Arab looters and grave-robbers.

About two and a half months ago, an Arab invaded the site and moved into one of the buildings with his family, while carrying out construction work on the site, and damaging ancient finds.

The Regavim movement, which fights illegal land grabs by Arabs, appealed to the Civil Administration to remove the intruder and stop the illegal work at the site. The Administration told Regavim that it had dispatched personnel to the site and served the invader an order to “stop the destruction of antiquities.”

The squatters remained in the area and continued to damage the antiquities at the site, and Regavim again appealed for immediate enforcement. Administrative inspectors arrived at the scene and confiscated some of the construction equipment and trees planted in the area, but did not evacuate the intruder and his family.

“It is not enough to post an order and leave – one needs to make sure that it is indeed enforced,” said Eitan Melet, coordinator of Judea and Samaria in the Regavim movement.

“We welcome the start of enforcement operations at the site, but the road to restoring the rule of law and deterrence is still long. The invaders must be removed from the compound immediately, and the invaders must be persecuted to the full extent of the law, thus conveying a deterrent message to other criminals,” he added.

The phenomenon of antiquity destruction in Judea and Samaria is pervasive and affects all sites that are not under permanent preservation, and a survey of the sites in Judea and Samaria shows that a staggering 95% of the archaeological sites have been robbed, vandalized or disturbed.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.