Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu received a report detailing the implementation of an initiative to preserve national heritage sites on Monday, the fourth anniversary of his previous government's decision to establish the initiative.
The plan, which is administered by Reuven Pinsky of the Prime Minister's Office, has already completed work on several sites that are now open to the public, while many more and in the process of implementation. The Society for the Preservation of Israel Heritage, the Antiquities Authority and the Nature and Parks Authority are cooperating on the initiative.
"The heritage plan links Israelis with their roots," said Netanyahu. "Each initiative presents fascinating aspects of the wonderful story of the Jewish People in its Land from the Biblical period, the Second Temple period, the Mishnaic and Talmudic eras, the Middle Ages, the rise of Zionism, the pre-state community, the earlier and later waves of immigration and independence, beginning with King David almost 3,000 years ago up to the declaration of the state 65 years ago."
Netanyahu praised the initiative, saying "our country may be small in size but has wide-ranging vistas and varied sites. I commend this project and invite everyone to visit the sites."
Regarding specifics, Pinsky noted that roughly 750 million shekels (over $200 million) has been invested in the project, which covers approximately 300 sites from various periods of Israel's history, stretching back to the Biblical period, and ranging throughout the country, including Judea and Samaria.
Abraham's Well completed, Shilo in Samaria set for next year
Work on numerous projects were completed in 2013, among them key sites from the foundation of the modern state, as well as preservation work on an ancient village and synagogue at Um Al Amdan in Modi'in, and new visitors centers at Abraham's Well in Be'er Sheva and Jacob's Wells in the western Negev and Susiya in Judea.
Building on the success, the initiative plans to complete work on several more sites this year, including reconstructing wall paintings at the Ades Synagogue in Jerusalem built by Syrian Jewish immigrants over 100 years ago, as well as developing trails and preserving Tel Shilo in Samaria, where remains of the ancient Tabernacle were reportedly found last July.
In 2012, work was completed on Independence Hall in Tel Aviv, the Yemin Moshe windmill in Jerusalem, and other sites.
Along with the physical work on the various sites, efforts are being made to create online resources to provide an educational experience introducing the history of the important locations.
"At this stage, the heritage plan includes approximately 300 initiatives, including 100 major initiatives and 46 'rescue initiatives,' as well as 150 smaller initiatives with budgets of 50,000 shekels each," reported Pinsky.