The head of the Samaria Council, Yossi Dagan, spoke with Israel National News about the continued attempts of the Palestinian Authority to destroy the biblical altar of Joshua in Samaria, and called on the Prime Minister to take responsibility for preserving the heritage and archaeological roots of the Jewish people.
"Our eyes are not closed at all. We are all aware of the damage that the Palestinian Authority tries to do time and time again to the site on Mt. Ebal. The Palestinian Authority is systematically trying to destroy the heritage sites of the Jewish people, including in Judea and Samaria. It is an ongoing battle throughout the period. This is not the first time that they have tried to do work in the area," said Dagan.
Dagan added that the municipality of Atchira a-Shimaliya, the nearby village, prepared an outline for the establishment of a neighborhood of buildings in the area of the altar, which will be turned into a courtyard between the he buildings.
"Together with Defense Minister Gallant, Minister Smotrich, Minister Strock, Minister Rabbi Amihai Eliyahu and Minister Ben-Gvir, they are working with all their might. These are not the first attempts. There was construction already about two years ago," Dagan noted, noting the findings that were revealed at the time to be from the material removed from the altar complex. The most unique find was that amulet with the name of God and the inscription "cursed," an amulet that was interpreted as a living testimony to the status of blessings and curses when the Israelites entered the Land of Israel during the time of Joshua.
Those works were stopped, but an excavator that arrived at the site last week began to resume the works and break ground on the site.
"The Civil Administration arrested them and with the approval of the Minister of Defense the excavator was confiscated," he said. "It reached the Minister of Defense that this is Area B. One of the stupid things about the Oslo Accords, beyond the lawlessness that is written in blood to this day, is that the entire Mount Ebal, which is the second eye of the state from a security point of view next to the Hermon which is the first eye, was defined as Area B, but the state is a signatory to all the treaties that oblige it to protect the sites under its responsibility, also in Area B, and indeed in this area they enforce against coal mines and other issues of environmental quality, vehicle theft and certainly in matters of archeology and heritage. This is a moral as well as a legal obligation according to the treaty and the agreements that Israel has signed."
"I am very upset because we will not be able to chase the mosquitoes. We need to dry up the swamp. The Israeli government must regain full control over Joshua's Altar on Mount Ebal. It must fence it and place a guard there. Netanyahu said two years ago that we would place a guard there and I expect that the promise will be kept and a guard will be posted. No nation would accept a situation where its most important heritage sites are abandoned to systematic destruction and looting."
Dagan pointed out that in his announcement at the time, about two years ago, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that Israel would both prosecute the destroyers of the altar and protect the place, but so far none of that has happened.
"I demand this from the government time and time again. I expect that the head of government, whom I respect, will protect the roots of the people and exercise our responsibility for a huge treasure of heritage and archeology which is the cradle of world culture and in this place which they are destroying, breaking and burning. I am warning that if there is no protection in place and they do not prevent the works, one day we will find that there will be no altar left," he warned.
Dagan pointed out the joint monitoring of the Palestinian Authority's intentions, which is being carried out by the "Preserving Eternity" organization, the council headed by himself, volunteer organizations, former MK Uzi Dayan, and others. "During their work, a document of the outline plan was found. The Civil Administration said they won't promote the plan, but the driver of the tractor who did the work was found to possess a map of the Palestinian Authority's plan for that crazy neighborhood on the site of the altar. The trend is clear: The PA wants to destroy this important heritage site like the ISIS barbarians did in Iraq."
"Unfortunately, the road and lighting that were paved adjacent to the altar were not enforced by the Civil Administration and unfortunately it may even have been approved in part, but at least now that we see desecration and trampling, I demand that the Prime Minister and the ministers come to their senses and take full control of the most important archaeological and heritage site in Judea and Samaria, the place where Joshua brought the People of Israel to and where the nation's status was changed - where it was said, 'This day you become a people.'"