Arabs pave illegal parking lot over Jewish heritage site

Arabs are paving an illegal parking lot over a major archaeological site for financial gain. 

By World Israel News Staff

Arabs have seized control of an archaeological site and have begun to illegally pave a parking lot, according to Regavim, an Israeli nonprofit that specializes in land rights issues.

The Tomb of the Prophet Samuel is considered a holy site by all three major faiths. Hundreds of thousands visit the site each year, which offers a panoramic vista of Jerusalem.

The area was declared a national heritage site and the rich archaeological remains, dating back to the Second Temple era, as well as the ancient oak trees that cover the hilltop, are all protected by National Park status.

The archaeological finds at the site bear witness to Jewish settlement, from the First Temple period through the Hasmonean Era, up to modern times.

Recently, Arab residents of the nearby village Nabi Samwil broke into the archaeological garden and used heavy machinery to pave a large plot, apparently as the first stage in creating a parking lot, as a means of collecting parking fees from visitors to the site.

The area is under full Israeli jurisdiction, only a short walk from a northern Jerusalem neighborhood and the Har Shmuel and Givat Ze’ev communities.

“The Civil Administration and the Israeli government must do everything in their power to block the construction of the parking lot,” wrote Attorney Avi Segal in his letter to the Civil Administration. “The authorities’ negligence has caused a major blow to the archaeological finds as well as to the rule of law.”

“It is difficult to assess the extent of the damage to the archaeological site, or the potential damage to the still-unexplored, ancient sub-strata,” adds Yishai Hemo, Regavim’s Field Director for Judea and Samaria.

“We have seen damage to important sites throughout Judea and Samaria, caused by construction in areas of tremendous historic significance and destruction of antiquities, in complete disregard of the law. We have said it before: People who care about the Land of Israel don’t cause it harm. The government must stop the destruction.”