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Israel: army displays artefacts stolen from Gaza in the Knesset

Israel Defence Forces displayed artefacts stolen from Gaza in the Israeli parliament, known as the Knesset [@ytirawi/X]

The Israel Defence Forces has been caught displaying artefacts stolen from Gaza in the Israeli parliament, known as the Knesset. The Director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, Eli Askozido, shared images on his official Instagram account, stating that Israeli soldiers contacted the authority to examine a warehouse in Gaza. In a post of the display at the Knesset, he wrote, “A small showcase was placed in the Knesset.”

Moreover, he published a video, revealing Israeli soldiers raiding a warehouse filled with antiquities, which he celebrated in his caption that stated: “Good week, the deputy director of the Antiquities Authority was rushed to Gaza to check a warehouse full of antiques. Thank you to warrior Moshe Agami.”

However, the post featuring the Knesset display is no longer on his profile and he has since posted the following statement: “The IDF called upon the Israel Antiquities to inspect a warehouse in Gaza housing ancient items or those appearing to be ancient. An initial examination was conducted by an archaeologist, and a comprehensive written report will be submitted to the IDF later. The items were left undisturbed at the site.”

Gaza, currently under Israeli bombardment, is rich in antiquities. It has been an important trading post for many civilisations, from as far back as the ancient Egyptians and the Philistines depicted in the Bible, through to the Roman Empire and the Crusades.

Pro-Palestinian activist Khaled Yousry slammed Askozido, pointing out: “The theft of antiquities is considered a war crime according to international law. The illicit trade of cultural properties, including antiquities, is a crime under the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Measures to be Taken to Prevent the Import, Export, and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.”

Israel launched a deadly offensive on the Gaza Strip following a cross-border attack by Hamas on 7 October. The Israeli offensive has killed at least 25,295 Palestinians and injured 63,000. Nearly 1,200 Israelis are believed to have been killed in the Hamas attack, many of them, it has been revealed by Haaretz, were killed by helicopters and tanks of the Israeli army rather than the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, as was originally claimed by Israel.

The Israeli offensive has left 85 per cent of Gaza’s population internally displaced amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60 per cent of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

READ: Israel forces storm Khan Yunis Hospital in bloodiest fighting of 2024

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