80% of archaeological sites in the West Bank have been damaged, according to a new, unpublished report by the right-wing archaeological group Israel’s Heritage Preservation Center (IHPC), which has surveyed the status of 365 ancient locations.“Four out of five sites have been harmed in one way or another,” archeologist Shay Bar of Haifa University said at a Jordan Valley Regional Council virtual conference in which he presented a synopsis of the report by IHPC, also known as Preserving the Eternal.Vandalism, theft, unsupervised construction and agriculture have contributed to harming sites, Bar said, adding that the report had been presented to the government and would be published soon. The findings warned that 38% of ancient sites had been seriously harmed, or were threatened with demolition, Bar said.The report was part of an effort to “raise a red flag” concerning the neglect of those archaeological sites.The problem, he said, exists both in Area C, which is under the IDF’s military and civilian control and in Areas A and B, which fall under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority.Among the examples he listed was of the ancient town of date farmers named for King Herod’s son, Archelais, who founded it in what is now known as the Jordan Valley. The remains of a Byzantine era church can also be seen at the site. Part of the site, including the church is in Area C, not far from Route 90 and the remainder is in Area A.Bar showed examples of what appeared to be craters at the site next to the church ruins that extend into Area A. He said they were holes dug by thieves to plunder ancient artifacts.“Even worse,” he said, was the destruction of remains from Roman era towns to make way for the construction of a new neighborhood at the Palestinian village of al-Auja north of Jericho.“When development is unsupervised, the result is total [archaeological] destruction,” Bar said.He also highlighted a cemetery from the Second Temple period located on the outskirts of Jericho that is also divided between Areas A and C and covers an area of 10 square-km. Bar said some sections of the cemetery had been demolished and grave robbers stripped other tombs.Bar showed an aerial view of a Maccabean era fortress atop the Mount of Temptation that overlooks Jericho, where Simon Maccabee and his sons are believed to have been killed.“This very important site has never been excavated,” he said.Moving to a much more recent period, he mentioned the remnants of a New Zealand army camp from World War I where the outlines of the camp can still be seen in the sand. In the United States and Europe battle sites are transferred into museums, but here, he said, in the last month, a Palestinian farmer plowed it over.“Tomorrow morning, or even now, as we speak, the farmer can continue,” he said.Similarly, he said, the construction of hothouses belonging to the Na’ama agricultural settlement has destroyed some of the remains of a British army camp from World War I.The disregard for historical sites, Bar said, will continue until Israeli authorities take charge of the situation. Archeologists’ hands are tied, particularly concerning Areas A and B.The IDF’s Civil Administration, which has control of Area C has only one person assigned to protect archaeological sites and he said that private, non-governmental groups have taken the lead in urging the preservation of historical sites, but the only effective solution is for the government to take charge.