Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel arrived yesterday (Monday) for a tour of Tel Aroma in Samaria following the publication of a special field survey conducted by the 'Shomrim al Hanetzach' organization in cooperation with the 'Shiloh Forum.'
Tel Aroma is an ancient fortress built by the Hasmonean dynasty in the First or Second Century BCE.
The purpose of the field survey is to reveal the enormous extent of destruction and looting carried out by the Palestinian Arabs in parts of Judea and Samaria.
365 antiquities and heritage sites were surveyed in a study conducted in the past year, with 80% of them on the verge of destruction, including cities, walls and magnificent buildings that have been flattened, excavated and looted or turned into agricultural and built-up areas.
10% of the sites were looted by antiquities robbers, 90% of the damage was caused as a result of development, construction and agriculture operations carried out by the Palestinian Authority and within its areas of responsibility in an attempt to erase historical and archaeological evidence which the PA finds inconvenient.
At the height of the tour, when Minister Hendel looked at the historic heritage site using an advanced drone and a VR headset, a new instance of active vandalism was suddenly discovered at Tel Aroma. The summit of the mound was flattened and lowered for the purpose of building terraces on both sides.
Minister Hendel said during the tour: "A nation that does not know how to remember its past will have a hard time dealing with the present and future. There is a systematic destruction of antiquities and sites that are important not only for the State of Israel but for the whole world. They must be protected."
"It is time to embark on a national emergency plan after this issue has been neglected, to ensure that the State of Israel preserves its antiquities, and if the Palestinian Authority fails to preserve its antiquities, then we will verify that as well," he said.
Samaria Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan said: "These figures indicate the long-standing neglect of the State of Israel. This is a neglect that many generations after us will regret in its unprecedented scope. The historical sites in Samaria throughout Judea and Samaria are an asset not only to the Jewish people but to all humanity."
Adi Shragai, director of activities for the Shomrim al Hanetzach organization, said: "Treasures of the past are disappearing, and the State of Israel is not doing the minimum necessary to prevent this. The position paper presents a plan of action to stop the destruction and robbery. We call on the government to immediately adopt the emergency plan and recommendations we have formulated."