Monday, April 15, 2013

From Al Monitor:

Earlier last month, amid overwhelming criticism from public figures and nongovernmental organizations, the military wing of the Islamic movement of Hamas, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, bulldozed a part of the ancient Anthedon Harbor in northern Gaza along the Mediterranean Sea. The Brigades damaged the harbor in order to expand its military training zone, which was initially opened on the location in 2002, according to Ejla.

The Anthedon seaport, which dates back over 3,000 years to the Mycenaean era, is considered one of the most important sites in the Middle East and is the oldest harbor in Gaza. It was designated an international heritage site by UNESCO in 2012. The location was discovered in 1997 on the space of 180,000 square meters. It contains mosaic floors with historical pillars from the Roman, Byzantine and Islamic ages.

In a press statement, the Hamas-run Ministry of Tourism said that it is the only responsible authority over the location, and it would not permit harm to the monuments.

“Due to rising population in the region, the ministry appreciates the urgent need for using new pieces of land. This is why the ministry has agreed with the different responsible parties on using a limited part of the location temporarily in a way that won’t harm the underground monuments there in any way,” the statement read.

But Deputy Minister of Tourism in Gaza Muhammad Khela told Al-Monitor that the location was taken for military use and not demographic purposes.

We can’t stand as an obstacle in the way of Palestinian resistance; we are all a part of a resistance project, yet we promise that the location will be limitedly used without harming it at all,” Khela explained.
UNESCO describes the harbor as a tentative World Heritage site, and it says that it qualifies because "Anthedon exhibits an important interchange of human values, over important periods of time that relate to the main trade route crossing the Holy Land from Egypt to the Fertile Crescent and linking Africa and the Middle East to Europe."

UNESCO has not issued any statements condemning Hamas' destruction of this site.

That description was submitted by the PA, in part of its effort to flood UNESCO with heritage sites. Indeed, it appears to be an important archaeological site - yet today much of it is under the "Beach refugee camp" which was set up by - the UN!

Adjoining to the site is another important archaeological siteBlakhiyyaunearthed by the French between 1995 and 2005, but since then Hamas has built a police station, a parking lot and other structures directly on top.

Most telling, however, is that the deputy tourism minister of Hamas admits that terrorism is more important to the government than tourism!

(h/t Gidon Shaviv)

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