The Tel Aroma archaeological site in Samaria’s Area B, which is governed by the Palestinian civilian government, has been the target of enforcement actions over the past few days by Staff Officer for Archeology (SOA) inspectors from Israel’s Civil Administration.
This operation was rather uncommon because, until a few months ago, the Civil Administration did not enforce infractions involving archaeological sites outside of Area C, which is completely under Israeli authority. A Hasmonean stronghold city called “Tel Aroma” is described in the Book of Judges as a biblical location.
It has suffered considerable damage from vandals and thieves and looks out over the Itamar Ridge.
A Hasmonean defense wall with a special Herodian addition of painted stones was among the discoveries unearthed.
Israel Hayom stated around a year ago that the PA intended to create a mosque honoring the shahids (martyrs, a euphemism for terrorists) and a Palestinian historical center at the place. Yossi Dagan, the head of the Shomron Regional Council, deemed this scheme to be “terrorism intended to harm Jewish history.”
The “Shomrim al Hanetzach” (Preserving the Eternal) organization claims that Civil Administration workers last week seized an excavator that was being used to pave an unauthorized road at the location, causing the destruction of ancient antiquities.
The confiscation brought an end to the violations. Recent policy changes have allowed the Civil Administration to start functioning in Area B as well, where violations of antiquities legislation and the destruction of ancient sites take place.
At the beginning of this month, SOA officers conducted operations in Khirbet Turpin once more, seizing four vehicles and detaining looters on the scene. Several months ago, Israel Hayom reported that the Civil Administration was acting in the Khirbet Turpin ruins, also found in Area B.
The chairman of Preserving the Eternal, Moshe Gutman, said, “We welcome the new trend.” The policy reform that started at Khirbet Turpin is now spreading throughout Judea and Samaria, headed by the political echelon.
“The State of Israel has grasped that it is equally accountable for heritage monuments located in Area B. We anticipate seeing more and better enforcement actions like this.
We are all entitled to the inheritance, he continued. The preservation of Jewish heritage in the area is a goal that the Israeli government has set for itself, along with combating the phenomenon of archaeological site destruction in Judea and Samaria.
The government last week adopted a comprehensive plan to stop the destruction of antiquities and allocated NIS 120 million ($32 million) to the cause, as reported by Israel Hayom.