Israel to Patrol Palestinian Building Project at Site of Joshua's Altar on Mt. Ebal
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JERUSALEM, Israel – Israel's Civil Administration says an archaeologist has opened an investigation into reports that the Palestinian Authority is attempting to build a housing project at the historical site of Joshua's Altar on biblical Mt. Ebal.
Israel's Channel 12 reported that a Samaria Regional Council inspector found road paving underway at the site commissioned by the P.A. as infrastructure for 32 housing units.
Samaria Regional Council leader Yossi Dagan called the situation a "disaster," and said, "No barbarian will be allowed to destroy this (site) of the people of Israel and human history."
Dagan called on the Civil Administration to stop the Palestinian project immediately.
He added, "It is impossible that in the days of the sovereign State of Israel we will allow under our noses damage to the only historical site that proves the status of the entry of the people of Israel into its land in the days of Joshua."
Biblical references to Joshua's Altar are mentioned in the books of Joshua and Deuteronomy. In Joshua 8:30-35, it says:
30 Now Joshua built an altar to the Lord God of Israel in Mount Ebal, 31 as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses: “an altar of whole stones over which no man has wielded an iron tool.” And they offered on it burnt offerings to the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings. 32 And there, in the presence of the children of Israel, he wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written. 33 Then all Israel, with their elders and officers and judges, stood on either side of the ark before the priests, the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord, the stranger as well as he who was born among them. Half of them were in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel. 34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and the cursings, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. 35 There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, with the women, the little ones, and the strangers who were living among them.
Moshe Gutman, chair of "Keepers of the Eternal," a coalition of groups dedicated to the preservation of Israeli historic heritage sites, charged that Defense Minister Yoav Gallant violated his pledge to keep Palestinian intruders off the site.
Gutman was quoted in JNS News as saying, "The Palestinians recognized Israel's weakness and it was decided to destroy Israel's most valuable heritage asset in Samaria. If the country does not come to its senses now, the altar and its surroundings will be destroyed and lost forever. I call on the prime minister and ministers of the Israeli government to address the issue immediately."
The site was discovered in 1980 by archaeologist Adam Zertal. It is part of Area B under the Oslo Accords, meaning that it is under joint Israeli-Palestinian security control, but Palestinian administrative control.
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