Israel is stepping up its efforts to seize control of Palestinian heritage sites and antiquities in the occupied territories. This is in direct violation of international law, Palestinian and Israeli archaeologists warned this week.
The experts echoed criticisms levelled against Israel in a recent resolution passed by UNESCO, that accused Israel of interfering with major holy sites in occupied areas.
The Palestinian tourism and antiquities ministry is preparing to announce a list of 14 major sites in the occupied territories that are in urgent need of protection from Israeli activities.
Ahmed Rajoub, an archaeologist in the Palestinian tourism and antiquities ministry, said Israel was preparing to turn a dozen important heritage sites in the West Bank into Israeli national parks.
Israel’s Antiquities Authority has also announced plans to transfer important relics and a library of historic books from the Rockefeller museum in occupied East Jerusalem into Israel.
Rajoub told Al Jazeera, “We cannot access these areas to protect them or even collect data for UNESCO.”
“That leaves them vulnerable to damage and destruction by settlers, the Israeli army and looters,” he said
According to ministry figures, more than 200 sites have been taken over by illegal Jewish settlements, and 1,000 damaged or destroyed by Israel’s construction of its separation barrier.
(AL JAZEERA, PC)