Umm ar-Rehan in Samaria
Umm ar-Rehan in SamariaSamaria Regional Council

Palestinians rode an excavator over the archaeological site of Umm ar-Rehan, a historical site from the Talmudic and Mishnah periods, located on state lands in Area C, near Harish and Katzir in northern Samaria, flattening the ground of the historic site and built a parking lot on the site.

Umm ar-Rehan is a settlement that has existed from the Mishnaic and Talmudic periods, and the Hellenistic, Byzantine and Roman periods, and was one of the largest in the area.

Buildings made of hewn stones, a watchtower, and a mausoleum – a magnificent burial structure – were found at the site.

This week, land scouts of the Samaria Regional Council came to the site and were shocked to discover that the site had been turned into a parking lot, while authorities were busy with the war.

The destruction is documented in aerial photographs, which show that Palestinian residents left no trace of the heritage site that existed there only several weeks ago.

This destruction follows the pattern of the Palestinian Authority's consistent demolition of the Altar of Joshua, the only remnant of the period of the Jewish people’s entry and settlement into the Land of Israel approximately 3,000 years ago, the destruction and theft of antiquities from the ancient Samaria National Park, the sole remnant of the ancient Kingdom of Israel, destruction of the Hasmonean fortress Tel Aroma, and other Jewish heritage sites throughout Judea and Samaria.

Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan said that "the war must not be used as an excuse for the destruction of Jewish historical heritage sites in Judea and Samaria. A deliberate attempt was made here to erase Jewish history. This is a crime not only against Jewish history and the people of Israel, but against every civilized person. The remains of Jewish settlements that stood here undisturbed for 2,000 years are consistently being destroyed, shattered and looted on our watch. This should be the responsibility of the State of Israel.

I demand that all the authorities investigate the failure that led to this outcome, restore the site, impose the entire payment on the offender, and grant enforcement, supervision and restoration rights to the Samaria Regional Council, which will help preserve the heritage sites within its boundaries. There is no other way today to protect the heritage sites here in Judea and Samaria."

Minister Amihai Eliyahu said, "Since the outbreak of the war, we have been experiencing increasing attempts to demolish heritage sites throughout Judea and Samaria, and it is our duty, even while we are fighting for our home, to continue fighting for our history. This is our hope for our land. When learning of the destruction, the Archaeology Officer’s Unit conducted an undercover investigation in order to identify those responsible for the damage, raided the home of the main suspect and arrested him. In the coming days an indictment will be filed against him."