Prophet Joshua's Mount Ebal altar site harmed by Palestinian road work

News of the destruction caused an immediate outcry among right-wing politicians.

An aerial view of the biblical site of Joshua's altar on Mount Ebal. (photo credit: SHUKI LEVINE)
An aerial view of the biblical site of Joshua's altar on Mount Ebal.
(photo credit: SHUKI LEVINE)
Palestinian Authority roadwork destroyed portions of a 3,200-year-old wall that belonged to the biblical site of Joshua’s altar on Mount Ebal, according to the right-wing NGO Shomrim al Hanetzach.
The area near the Palestinian city of Nablus, also known by the biblical name of Shechem, is located in Area B of the West Bank, and therefore the site falls under the auspices of the PA, and as such the Civil Administration has no oversight, its representative explained.
Shomrim al Hanetzach reported that Palestinian workers had ground ancient stone from the site’s exterior wall into gravel to pave the road as well as made use of stones from within the site itself.
The altar remains intact, but Shomrim al Hanetzach, which focuses on the preservation of Jewish archaeology said it fears additional damage to the site could still occur.
It pointed to a pledge by Strategic Affairs Minister Michael Biton (Blue and White), who is also a minister in the Defense Ministry, that no harm would come to the site as a result of the roadwork.
News of the destruction caused an immediate outcry among right-wing politicians.
Religious Zionist Party head MK Bezalel Smotrich called the destruction an “insane failure” whose “results are irreversible.”
Once in the government his party will demand the closure of the Civil Administration, which governs civilian life in Area C of the West Bank. Civilian affairs in Judea and Samaria should be dealt with directly by various ministries, he said, adding that such a move would be a form of de facto sovereignty.
MK Matan Kahana said that the destruction was “another sign of the lack of governance by the Netanyahu government which has given up our culture’s cradle.”
Former justice minister, MK Ayelet Shaked (Yamina), said, “There are relentless attempts to weaken our hold on our homeland and to obscure the Jewish people’s glorious past in the Land of Israel, both through terrorist acts and destruction of archaeology.
“The government knew that work was being done in this area and yet part of the archaeological site was destroyed,” Shaked said.
Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan said the harm to the site was an unfortunate consequence of the government’s failure to preserve Jewish heritage in Judea and Samaria.
Guy Derech of Shomrim al Hanetzach said the altar was one of the more important archaeological sites, and that harming it was a violation of the Oslo Accords.
“We call on the prime minister and government ministers to stop burying their heads in the sand, to start working before no more heritage remains,” Derech said.