A Palestinian Flag sits atop Hasmonean Tel Aroma

Over the weekend, the Palestinian Authority buried the ancient Hasmonean fortress "Tel Aroma" under thousands of tons of dirt and destroyed much evidence of the existence of the historic Jewish site.

Massive construction work was carried out by the Palestinian Authority last Saturday in the Hasmonean fortress of Tel Aroma, as part of which thousands of tons of dirt were poured on the slopes of the ancient Hasmonean fortress. Following the report of the destruction, the archeology department of Judea and Samaria worked to stop the construction, but during the afternoon tractors resumed and continued the destruction.

The dirt spillway almost completely blocks two ancient water reservoirs that were uncovered, which were used by the Hasmoneans. These piles of dirt are added to the previous destruction of the mound in the area which has been going on for several years and includes the shaving of the top of the mound, a massive theft of antiquities, and the construction of the "Mosque of the Martyrs" on the site.

Tel Aroma is an archaeological park identified with the biblical site of Aroma, which was the ruling city of Abimelech, topped by a Hasmonean fortress with an impressive water system that functioned as a ruling city during the Hasmonean kingdom and a fortress to protect its northern border. The site is located in Area B according to the Oslo Accords, at the top of a prominent hill, about 850 meters above sea level, on a ridge north of the Samaria’s main highway and the village of Akbara, and south of the Gideonim ridge near the settlement of Itamar.

Under the auspices of the Jewish Sabbath when Israeli antiquities protection & enforcement employees are off, trucks, and excavators dug near the "Mosque of the Martyrs" and removed thousands of tons of dirt that were spilled on top of the mound. The dirt covered the Herodian wall on the site and blocked at least two ancient water reservoirs, which are among the largest found in Israel from this period.

Yossi Dagan, head of the Samaria Council, said that "This is shameful". According to him, "The Hasmonean fortress, one of the most important found, is being systematically vandalized. Part of the attempts of the pathetic 'Palestinian Authority.'  I call on the government to make Tel Aroma a strategic destination for conservation before it's too late."

Adi Shargai, the director of activities in the "Keepers of Eternity" movement, said that "Tel Aroma is a flagship case of the gross and blatant erasure and destruction of the material culture of the Hasmonean kingdom. They don't care what judicial area it is in as they destroy every piece of Jewish history, so is their duty. The Israeli government must stop the destruction of the site immediately, and arrest the terrorist Walid Assaf, the Palestinian Minister of Borders and Settlements who is responsible for the crime of destroying the site.

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