Update: Tel Rumeida Archaeological Site in Hebron Open for Visitors
This evening, October 16, 2018, the Tel Hebron archaeological site in the city of Hebron will be opened to the public following a decision of the Civil Administration in the West Bank. Tel Hebron is an archaeological site commonly known as Tel Rumeida, located at the edge of Rumeida neighborhood in the city. Opening the site to visitors is an outcome of archaeological excavations that began in 2014, taking the project a step further by strengthening the presence of the settlers in the Palestinian neighborhood of Rumeida, and enabling them to take control of additional areas.
There is no coincidence to the timing of the site’s opening on the heels of the government’s decision to establish a new neighborhood in Hebron. Both decisions are part of a deliberate move by the government to strengthen the Israeli settlement in the city. The opening of the site comprises the implementation of Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan’s promise in November 2017 to turn the site into an active archaeological park.
The head of the Civil Administration, Brig. Gen. Achvat Ben Hur, stated that “the opening of the site is a revelation of another piece of Jewish history.” This quote is indicative of the one-dimensional vision of the Civil Administration and of the Hebron settlers. The need to emphasize the Jewish past of Hebron (which no one disagrees with), while ignoring the thousands of years of history and other cultures that shaped the city, all the while making the Palestinian residents of the neighborhood transparent, is yet another example of the use of archaeology and narratives to create a hierarchy in Hebron.
We have no choice but to lament that academic and professional bodies, such as Ariel University and the Israel Antiquities Authority who excavated the site, have once again transformed an antiquities site into a political tool and a source for intensifying the conflict.
For additional information see Tel Rumeida—Hebron’s Archaeological Park