(Yonatan Sindel/Flash90) (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
.Archaelogy in Israel

Up until recently, Israel has refrained from enforcement against violations of archeological sites not in Judea and Samaria’s ‘Area C,’ which is under full Israeli control.

By Ben Rappaport, United with Israel

In a rare move, the Civil Administration, which is subordinate to the Israeli Defense Ministry’s “Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories” (COGAT) unit, has in the past several days carried out enforcement activity against illegal construction at an archaeological site in Area B of Judea and Samaria, Israel Hayom reported.

Up until recently, the Civil Administration has refrained from enforcement against violations of archeological sites not in Area C of Judea and Samaria.

The Oslo Accords divided Judea and Samaria into Areas A, B, and C. Area A is under full PA control, Area C is under full Israeli control, while Area B is controlled by the PA regarding municipal issues, and by Israel regarding security issues.

Israel Hayom cited the “Shomrim al Hanetzach” (Preserving the Eternal) organization which said Civil Administration personnel confiscated at the biblical Tel Aroma archaeological site an excavator that was being used to pave an illegal road while destroying archeological finds.

According to Israel Hayom, the Palestinian Authority had planned to build a “Palestinian heritage site” and a mosque commemorating “martyrs” at the site.

The Civil Administration began enforcing against violations of archaeological sites in Area B several months ago, starting with a site known as Khirbet Turpin.

“We welcome the new trend,” Moshe Gutman, chairman of Preserving the Eternal, said, according to Israel Hayom.

“The State of Israel has understood that it is also responsible for heritage sites located in Area B. The policy change that began in Khirbet Turpin is spreading throughout Judea and Samaria, led by the political echelon. We hope to see more and more effective enforcement operations such as these. The heritage belongs to us all.”

Last week, the Israeli government approved a program allocating 120 million shekels for enforcement against violations and preservation of archaeological sites in Judea and Samaria.

“In every corner of Judea and Samaria, one need only to put spade to ground in order to uncover archaeological finds that attest to our deep roots in the Land of Israel,” Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet meeting.

“These are our roots and this is our land.”

“This plan will encourage tourism, education and [the presentation of] information for these important sites that tell the story of our people in Judea and Samaria,” he added.

At a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting on Wednesday, Minister Bezalel Smotrich said that the government was aiming for a cabinet decision that would define subversive PA construction across Judea and Samaria as “hostile political activity.”

“The key to our ability to operate also in Areas A and B is dependent on the definition of the term national security and what is related to Israel’s national security interests,” Smotrich said.

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