AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Settler archeological excavations continue to expand at Tel Rumeida


13 May 2014
AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Settler archeological excavations
continue to expand at Tel Rumeida

  The head of the Al Gobeh family looks at  the
title to his property while
to convince
 the head of the excavation site to stop work
 on his land.

The Israel
Antiquities Authority, with the cooperation of the settlement security
apparatus, has expanded the excavations around the Abu Haikal, Al Natsheh, and
Al Gobeh families lands in the H2 section of Hebron, near the Jewish settlement
of Tel Rumeida.

On Sunday 11 May 2014, members of the
Christian Peacemaker Teams, the Ecumenical Accompaniers, and the International
Solidarity Movement went to be with the Al Gobeh family as they protested the
development of the excavations on their land.

Despite an agreement between the Israel
Antiquities Authority and the family to halt work until a civil engineer from
the Hebron district could come and accurately delineate the property lines, the
workers on the dig waited until the family left and began to shift the dirt onto
the Al Gobeh family land.

“This is our land,” said Al Gobeh. “We
didn’t give permission for this.  We have witnessed what 
happened in the past when we let Israelis work on our land.  It turns into a development.”  

“The excavations inside of Hebron are
required to be coordinated with the Palestinian Authority under the Oslo
Agreement,” said Dr. Ahmed Rjoob of the State of Palestine’s Ministry and
Tourism Department.  “ There are
several issues with the archeological dig.”

Rjoob argued that the excavations, in
addition to being illegal under joint agreements and protocols to which Israel
and the PA are both signatories, have in the past been used as instruments for
settlement expansion, as in the case of the Tel Rumeida settlement.  The expansion of the archeological digs
has quarantined homes and restricted the movements of their inhabitants, in
particular the Abu Haikal family.

According to Rjoob, the very nature of
the dig goes against the principles of archeological research.  “In archeology, we do excavations to do
research – make discoveries.  This
isn’t what is going on here,” said Rjoob.  “They came in with a development plan before hand.” 

Emek Shaveh, an organization of
archaeologists and community activists focusing on the role of archaeology in
Israeli society and in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, contends that the plan
has been in the works for years.

“It appears
that the plan for the archaeological park was first conceived at least four
years ago—in 2010, Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat visited Hebron along
with the Director of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).  And yet, the excavation started soon
after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent statement that Hebron would
remain in Israeli hands in any peace agreement between Israel and the
Palestinians.  The coinciding of
these occurrences is a reminder that any archaeological excavation in Hebron
will be closely linked to political considerations.  Already in the late 1990s, the IAA was involved in an
excavation of Tel Rumeida conducted in preparation for the establishment of the
settlement on the mound.”

“We will continue to work to preserve
the rights of the families here,” said Rjoob.  “These lands belong to the Palestinians under international

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