Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu and Environmental Protection Minister Idit Silman arrived on a tour of ancient Samaria after yesterday's (Tuesday) announcement of a new road being paved by the Palestinian Authority over antiquities of ancient Samaria, and about the destruction of the route of the Herodian wall, and dumping of pig carcasses into burial caves from the Second Temple period.
The ministers were accompanied by Samaria Council Head, Yossi Dagan. The tour was also attended by representatives of the Nature and Parks Authority, the authority subordinate to the Minister of Environmental Protection, as well as the "Shomrim Al Hanetzach" (Preserving Eternity) organization.
"The serious damage to the National Park and outside of it in recent years while erasing the remains of the capital of Samaria and one of the most important sites in the history of the Jewish people is our erasure from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The war on Sebastia is also the war on Tel Aviv. In the coming days, we will work to promote a government decision that will allow the development of area," said the ministers.
"This is an attempt to systematically destroy any connection between the State of Israel and the Jewish People, and one of our most important cultural and historic sites," stated Dagan. "These are unique remains from the period of the ancient Kingdom of Israel. It's a disgrace that Jewish history is being destroyed in such a manner, and under the very noses of the Israeli government," he added.
Environmental Protection Minister Silman and Minister Eliyahu announced that they will promote a government move to develop the area: "The Palestinian Authority is working systematically to destroy the archaeological remains that testify to the deep and historical connection of the people of Israel to their country."
Arabs living in Judea and Samaria have been destroying ancient ruins in the area for years, but now, according to Jews monitoring the situation, the destruction is being taken to a new level, with archaeological remains wrecked and a road actually paved over them.
The Samaria National Park in Sebastia has frequently been the target of nationalist vandals seeking to erase the site's Jewish history, which dates back millennia. Sebastia was once called Shomron (Samaria) and served as the capital city of the ancient Kingdom of Israel. Many ancient remains can be seen there, including pillars dating back to the First Temple period and a giant amphitheater from the days of King Herod in the Second Temple period.
It is located just a few miles to the north-west of Shechem (Nablus), however, making it relatively difficult for Israelis to access and easy for local Arabs to reach. This week, members of the Shomrim Al Hanetzach organization, accompanied by local council members, were shocked to discover that heavy machinery had been moved there and a road paved right in the heart of the archaeological site, along a route extending from Area B a further 400 yards into Area C.
In order to pave the road, a wall dating back to Herodian times was destroyed and burial caves dating back to the Second Temple period were smashed, looted, and obliterated.
Furthermore, officials from the Palestinian Authority are believed to have flung pigs carcasses into the ancient graves in an attempt to deter Israeli archaeologists from entering the area and revealing the extent of the destruction wrought. The Palestinian Authority has been documented building infrastructure in the area for the past few months, destroying archaeological remains in the process.