Roman Temple of Zeus
Ramallah – Sona Adeek and Gamal El Sheikh
Israeli's government have decided to embrace Mount Gerizim in Nablus city in the West Bank, into a park and nature reserve run by what they describe as the Authority of Nature and Monuments Protection, as a
prelude to confiscation.
This step taken by the occupation forces is to implement the Israeli government's 2010 decision to convert a number of Palestinian cultural heritage sites into Israeli heritage sites.
The mountain which is 881 meters above sea level houses the remains of the Roman Temple of Zeus, a Byzantine church as well as a castle built by the Muslim leader Saladin.
The Samaritans sanctified the top of this mountain, located in a Palestinian area classified according to the Oslo Agreement and signed by the Palestine Liberation Organisation in 1993 because of its religious status.
The Palestinian Authority rejects the Israeli action, describing it as a breach of international law. Sources in the Hebrew press said that Israel drew criticism from the Palestinian Authority which called for listing Mount Gerizim as a Palestinian heritage and tourism site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Palestinian Authority submitted an urgent request to discuss the issue during meetings with UNESCO to ratify the mountain as one of Palestine's World Heritage sites.
The Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities has condemned the Israeli decision to include Mount Gerizim in Nablus as part of a park and a nature reserve run by the Israeli Authority of Nature and Monuments Protection.
The ministry considered this decision"as another act of piracy by Israel of Palestinian heritage and a flagrant violation of the law and international conventions for the protection of cultural heritage during the period of occupation, especially the principles for the protection of cultural heritage during the armed conflict of 1907, and the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and the Hague Convention of 1954 on the protection of cultural property during armed conflict, which provides that any damage to cultural property of any persons is considered damage to of the cultural heritage of all mankind."
Griss Qumsiyeh, spokesman for the Palestinian Tourism Ministry told Arabstoday: “‘we believe that what Israel is doing is a violation of the Geneva Conventions.” A spokesman for the Palestinian government, Ghassan Khatib said: “This is a violation of international law. These are occupied areas since 1967 and are considered Palestinian areas." He added: 'the religious and historical value of the site should not extend to political sovereignty. This is Palestinian land, regardless of its religious significance. This is an Israeli step that we reject and condemn and considered a violation of international law.”
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said that Israel cannot register any site located within the occupied Palestinian territories of 1967, as an Israeli site.
"This land is represented by another member of UNESCO which is the State of Palestine, and this is as an illegitimate and immature ambition that lacks vision."
Malki said that the Authority is ready to confront Israel through UNESCO, describing it as a " farce" which should not be allowed to happen. He affirmed that the PA will question the issue of Israel's membership to UNESCO in case the theft of the Palestinian sites has gone too far, along with garnering support from other member states embodied in the international organisation.