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Israel shuts Palestinian archaeological site in Nablus

Israeli security members clash with Palestinian demonstrators commemorating land day and protesting settler visits to archaeological and historical sites in the Palestinian village of Sebastia, northwest of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, on 30 March 2021. [JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP via Getty Images]
Israeli security members clash with Palestinian demonstrators commemorating land day and protesting settler visits to archaeological and historical sites in the Palestinian village of Sebastia, northwest of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, on 30 March 2021. [JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP via Getty Images]

Israeli forces yesterday sealed off a Palestinian archaeological site in Nablus' town of Sebastia.

Sebastia's Mayor, Mohammad Azem, told Wafa news agency that a "sizable Israeli military force has raided the town, proceeded with the site closure, and prevented Palestinians from accessing it, to ensure protection of dozens of settlers who forced their way into the site."

Azem pointed out that the illegal settlers had recently announced a "programme to storm the town in the coming days," adding that they were attempting to impose a "fait accompli to realise their settlement ambitions in the area."

Sebastia is a small historic town located on a hill 11 kilometres to the northwest of Nablus, 3,000 Palestinians inhabit the area. The area has been identified as the capital of the northern kingdom during the Iron Age II in Palestine and a major urban centre during the Hellenistic and Roman periods, according to UNESCO.

Attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinians are common, particularly by extreme right-wingers. They are rarely held to account by the occupation authorities. Indeed, in most cases, the settlers who harass and attack Palestinians are accompanied and protected by Israeli soldiers.

Israeli settlers have recently intensified their presence at the Palestinian archeological site as the army closes the area to Palestinian residents.

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