Palestinians say that the historic town of Sebastia, located in the Occupied West Bank, is facing the threat of “Judaisation” by Israel, Anadolu Agency reports.
The town is designated as “World Heritage in Danger” by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
The history of Sebastia, a town in the city of Nablus in the West Bank, dates back 5,000 years. Sebastia Municipality, in cooperation with some Palestinian organisations, has carried out restoration works at the archaeological sites in the town.
Speaking to Anadolu, Sebastia’s Mayor, Mohammad Azim, drew attention to the fact that Israel is in the final stage of seizing the town of Sebastia with its “Judaisation” efforts.
He said, within the framework of the Second Oslo Agreement signed between Palestine and Israel in 1995, the Occupied West Bank was divided into three regions and that the administration and security of “Zone C”, which covers 61 per cent of the area, was left to Israel.
Azim said: “As the municipality, we are experiencing various obstacles in completing the restoration works at the archaeological sites in Sebastia. The foremost of these obstacles is that most of the archaeological sites in Sebastia are located within the boundaries of the ‘C’ region determined within the framework of the Oslo Agreement.”
Israeli forces frequently demolish Palestinian homes and properties in Zone C, claiming that they are “unlicensed”. It is virtually impossible for Palestinians to obtain a license from the Israeli authorities for construction activities on their private lands.
In May, the Israeli government approved a 29 million shekel (about $8 million) investment proposal for the “development” of archaeological sites in Sebastia. The Palestinians, on the other hand, interpreted Israel’s approval as a step to seize and Judaise the Sebastia region.
Azim said the town has been exposed to “incredible attacks” since the establishment of the current government in Israel.
“Attacks aimed at seizing and Judaising the historical town have begun” under the pretext of “preserving historical structures and archaeological sites”, Azim said, fearing that the town is about to fall into the hands of Israeli Occupation Forces.
Saying that the road planned by Israel for Jewish settlements will pass through the territory of Sebastia and many historical sites will be destroyed, Azim underlined that Israel is trying to occupy the historical town through the road project.