Shomrim Al Hanetzach, an Israeli group dedicated to protecting antiquities, recently discovered that Tel Aruma, the northernmost fortress of the Jewish state during the Hasmonean period, had been taken over by the Palestinian Authority and artifacts were being systematically destroyed.
On Sunday, representatives of the organization arrived at the site in Samaria and discovered that a large Palestinian flag had been erected at the site. Work was being carried out with tractors and other heavy equipment in order to convert “the site into an active Palestinian tourist site while causing shocking destruction of the archaeological findings and history which we will never be able to recover,” the organization said on its Facebook page. “The PA has declared war on our history.”
“The Palestinian authority annexes Jewish heritage sites and turns them into tourism sites, while systematically destroying archaeological findings,” the organization wrote on their Facebook Page. They reported that a concrete foundation for a large flagpole was poured on top of an archaeologically sensitive area, the walls of the ancient fortress were damaged, electric lighting was installed in a manner that damaged the archaeological strata, and its ancient water reservoirs were blocked.
Shomrim Al Hanetzach reported that no less than 95 % of archeology sites in Judea and Samaria have been destroyed or have been targeted by the theft of antiquities.
“According to the Oslo Accords, there is a requirement for full coordination between Israel and the PA in all matters related to archaeology, like there is security coordination. Therefore, in a situation where there is no security, Israel is obliged to act, so as in crimes against history, Israel is obliged to act,” Shomrim Al Hanetzach stated.
Shomrim Al Hanetzach is organizing a hike to the site on Friday in reaction to the PA’s actions. The hike will be guided by Jonathan Goldin and will set out from the rear gate of the town of Itamar. Information and sign-up are online.
The fortress was mentioned as one of the places Avimelech ben Gideon stayed.
It is strategically important, overlooking the ancient road from Shechem (Nablus) to the Jordan Valley.