The Civil Administration said it demolished seven illegal Palestinian structures on Monday, three of which were built on the Jewish archeological site of Hirbet Marjameh, near Kochav Yaakov in the Binyamin region.
It further said the Palestinians had caused extensive damage to the ancient site, which contains invaluable artifacts from the time of the Avos, as well as underground networks from the period of Bayis Sheini and the Bar Kochva revolt. Because of its rare treasures, it was declared an archeological site by the British during the Mandatory period some 70 years ago.
Separately, it said, it destroyed two structures and two pens for animals that were illegally built in the Wadi Qelt nature reserve.
About eight months ago — during the shivah period following the murder of Malachi Rosenfeld, Hy”d, a resident of Kochav Hashachar who was shot dead by terrorists — a new illegal home was set up, overlooking the scene of the attack. The home was surrounded by a large stone wall, apparently using rocks taken from the historical site itself.
Since the entire complex is located in Area C and under complete Israeli control, the NGO Regavim appealed to the Civil Authority with the demand to stop the continuing destruction and building, and to take criminal action against the perpetrators. This is in accordance with the law prohibiting construction at archaeological sites, as well as customary international law, which mandates the protection of cultural and archaeological treasures.
About four months ago, after the Civil Administration had not responded to repeated inquiries, Regavim submitted a petition to the Supreme Court. The Court is expected to look into the case within the next few months, but investigators have already been sent to the site with heavy machinery to destroy a number of illegal buildings.
“This is much needed and appropriate enforcement,” Regavim stated. “It is ‘too little, too late’ for the antiquities here, but this is of course a welcome first step on the long road that enforcement authorities must take.”