The army barred two Israel left-wing activists and a local Palestinian activist from approaching Tuesday’s dedication of an archeological site in the Hebron Jewish settlement.
The activists’ video documentation shows soldiers informing them that it was a closed military zone - yet hundreds of people attended the ceremony at the Tel Hebron site, including many civilians, headed by settlers from Hebron.
This week the Civil Administration issued a press release inviting the general public and the media to the opening upon completion of preservation work by the administration’s archaeology unit and Ariel University.
According to the press release, it is an important site with archeological finds from the First Temple period. “We are pleased and excited to reveal another piece of Jewish history and make it accessible to the general public. The Civil Administration has been working for the past year to excavate and reveal the discoveries and to open a new archaeological site to the public in Judea and Samaria,” Civil Administration head Ahvat Ben Hur was quoted as saying.
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Nevertheless, the ceremony was open only to people who identify with the settlement in Hebron. When the Palestinian activist and the two Israeli activists from Emek Shaveh, an Israeli NGO involved in archeology and identified with the left, approached the site, a soldier informed them that it was a closed military zone and entry was prohibited.
According to Emek Shaveh spokesman Uri Erlich, the settlers saw him and the other NGO representative arriving with the well-known Palestinian activist Issa Amro, and told the soldiers to send them away.
The video shows the activists approaching and being barred by a soldier who says: “This is a closed military zone,” displaying a signed order though hundreds of other people were present there. An IDF major at the scene stated that entry was permitted only to those who had purchased tickets even though journalists and the general public had been invited without tickets and in the press release there was no mention of the site as a closed military zone.
“I am the one who defines who can be here and I have authorization from the brigade commander,” said the officer. “I’m sorry that this is how it is, but that’s the situation.”
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit response said that “on Tuesday, October 16, there was an event to dedicate an archeological site at Tel Rumeida in Hebron. The Civil Administration nature reserve unit is responsible for the site and operates it. The event in question was coordinated with and approved by the relevant authorities. A closed military zone order was issued in this case because of concern about disturbance of public order at the site.”