The biblical altar that Joshua forgot is now at the heart of a land battle

There is nothing to inform a steep walker that the beautiful, rocky mountain of Mount Ebal behind a small olive grove may be an ancient site mentioned in Deuteronomy and the Book of Joshua.Joshau’s altar on Mt. Ebal at close / Tovah Lazaroff
The site is unfenced. There are no indications that this vast mass of rocks thousands of years ago served as an altar where Joshua sacrificed animals to God.
Unlike the West Wall or the Tomb of the Patriarchs, the exact location of the altar was not known until it was discovered by Haifa University archaeologist Adam Zertal in 1980.
Zertel’s claim that this is Altar Joshua was never accepted. Moreover, its location in Samaria placed it at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and kept the site from developing as an archaeological park.
Earlier this month, however, Palestinian city workers pulled rocks from a biblical outer wall around the altar for use in a pavement. His actions about the damage he did to the site again focused on the Iron Age altar, and he again made calls with the Israeli Right to convert it into an archaeological park.

Among those who lifted the gauntlet is Likud MK Uzi Dayan, who is also vice-president of IDF Central Command.

Joshau's altar on Mt.  Ebal, the site from a distance / Tovah Lazaroff Joshau’s altar on Mt. Ebal, the site from a distance / Tovah Lazaroff

“It’s not even designated as an archaeological site,” Dayan said Post Jerusalem on Monday. It was not mentioned under the 1993 and 1995 Oslo Accords, which established the West Bank’s rule that has survived to this day, he said.
As head of the Central Command, Dayan said, he believed Altar Joshua was part of District C of the West Bank, which is under civilian and military control of the IDF.

But changes to the map have now been placed in District B of the West Bank, under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz has clarified that he is considering the Area B site.
Dayan has requested to meet with IDF officials to clarify the reclassification, in the hope that it can be reconsidered as part of District C.
Wherever it is, Israel must find a way to protect and preserve the area as an archaeological park, he said.

Dayan remembers the example of Qasr al-Yehud in the Jordan Valley, which is both the baptismal site of Jesus and the place where the crossing of the Jordan River entered Israel after its crucifixion. gone 40 years in the desert.

    Joshau's altar on Mt.  Ebal, a view near a biblical wall or terrace.  Two sections of this wall were destroyed / Tovah Lazaroff Joshau’s altar on Mt. Ebal, a view near a biblical wall or terrace. Two sections of this wall were destroyed / Tovah Lazaroff
Two decades ago, the area was a closed military area that could only be opened with special permission. It is now a national park that attracts nearly a million visitors each year.
Dayan joins Dayan in his battle with the leader of the Samaria Regional Council, Yossi Dagan, chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tzvi Hauser, now part of the New Hope Party, and the right-wing archeology group Shomrim al Hanetzach, who first discovered the damage.
Hauser, who wants to hold a committee meeting on the issue, was banned by Gantz from bringing members of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee to the site.

Dagan said this is just one of several archaeological sites where there is a battle between Israel and the PA for control.

He and Dayan, who visited the site together Sunday, stood near where the wall was damaged. The colored earth stones, where the wall was rebuilt, stood out in contrast to the gray areas of biblical times.
Politicians are blunt about the idea that Altar Joshua should eventually be under Israeli sovereignty. But more than that, they said, there is also a question about critical Jewish history and Jewish archeology.
According to Yonatan Mizrachi, of the left archeology group Emek Shaveh, the area is not “important,” and at best it could have a nice view of the area.
The issue here is political, he said, adding that there are many other sites with higher values ​​that need to be preserved, including those with old heights.
Archaeologist Aharon Tavger of Ariel University announced a letter sent last week to Gantz by 50 archaeologists to discuss the importance of the site.

One could argue whether Joshua stood here, he said, but there is no argument that the site is a unique example of an Iron Age altar.

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