Source: WAFA/Mondoweiss/Christian Media Centre
Before dawn today (Monday), Israeli soldiers came with a forklift truck and seized a rare Byzantine-era baptismal font from Tuqu town, near Bethlehem, Palestinian news agency WAFA reports.
The font, made from rose coloured stone, dates back to the 5th or 6th century. It is one of only three known to exist in the Holy Land. One was discovered recently in the Church of the Nativity and there is another in Beit Jubrin Church in Hebron.
According to WAFA, the same font was stolen by "unauthorized dealers" in 2000, before being returned by the Palestinian authorities to Tuqu in 2002. It was being kept in front of the mayor's house, pending construction of a town museum.
International law prohibits an occupying power from taking antiquities out of the territory it occupies.
Emek Shaveh, an Israeli NGO 'working to defend cultural heritage rights', has long criticized Israel for its archaeological practices in the occupied West Bank.
The group said: "Israel continues to use its position as the administrator of archaeological sites in the West Bank as a means to deepen its control over West Bank land, to expand the settlement enterprise, and extend the policy of dispossession of Palestinians from their lands and cultural assets. Although the takeover of land through archaeology is not the main method of achieving Israeli control over land, it is significant because of its symbolic aspects and impact on public awareness."
WAFA photojournalist Oday Daibes has posted a video showing Israeli soldiers escorting the forklift truck carrying the eight ton font. See the video below.
Emek Shaveh - https://alt-arch.org/en/
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