Science meets politics as second temple era artifacts found in West Bank
The neighborhood of Tel Rumeida in Hebron in the southern West Bank, stands in the seam zone between the Jewish and the Arab quarters of the divided city. And recently it found itself at the center of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Tension in the area increased after the release of a video showing an IDF soldier apparently shooting an unarmed, incapacitated Palestinian assailant. But as the dispute in Hebron continues, shadows from the past rise up.
Recently archaeologists from Ariel University, also located in the West Bank, have found new exciting artifacts dated to the second Biblical Jewish temple.
Dr David Ben Shlomo from the university who is running the excavations, explains that the vessels from the Second Temple period were destroyed in 68 AD by the Romans, but have now been reconstructed.
“We can see it was a Jewish culture. First of all we have this ritual bath, secondly we have stone vessels which in this period is known to indicate Jewish population," he says.
But not everyone is pleased with the new findings. Yonathan Mizrahi from the left wing Emek Shaveh archaeologist organization opposes the excavations, saying it is a political tool of Jewish settlers who use it to fortify their hold on this disputed area "You cannot say you are just doing scientific work in a conflict area when you are a part of it. You are a university in a conflict area, your activity is in a conflict area, you are unwelcome there, the narrative is definitely one sided, I encourage Dr Ben Shlomo to go inside Israel and to excavate there," says Mizrahi.
Last year Israel's West Bank Civil Administration announced that by the end of the year it plans to reverse the allocation of the Tel Rumeida archaeological park to the Jewish settlement in Hebron, following a petition by Emek Shaveh and Breaking the Silence, another left wing organization.
But Ben Shlomo dismisses the allegations and says science is above politics. "Even if this area is disputed today, it is still an historical site. I still think we should research it because otherwise it will be destroyed, I don’t think it’s good for anyone. "
As it stands now, the archaeologists are determined to continue their research on the site, a dig which may lead to great discoveries. But it may also open more wounds in an already bleeding area.
Uri Shapira is an i24news television reporter
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