Nablus (In Palestine Today)- Israeli occupation forces and settlers on Thursday morning stormed the archeological site of Sebastia in Nablus in the occupied West Bank, closing its entrances.
Mohammad al-Azem, head of the Sebastia municipality, said hundreds of Israeli settlers forced their way into the site under the protection of the Israeli forces, who raided the village and proceeded to close the site, preventing Palestinians from accessing it, to make room for the settler intrusion.
Al-Azem pointed out that the settlers raided the site several times in the past months, as in June only, the settlers raided it more than three times.
Al-Azem has said that Israel’s archeological activities in Palestinian territory aim to extend the policy of dispossessing Palestinians of their lands and cultural assets.
Al-Azem has also stressed that indigenous of Sebastia will not allow the Israeli occupation to one day steal their heritage and will confront every attempt to take over the lands.
Sebastia is an ancient town dating back 3,000 years. It extends over 5,000 dunums [1,235 acres] and is inhabited by 3,500 people. Herod the Great named the city Sebaste— meaning Augustus — in honor of Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar in 27 B.C.
The city, famous for its dozens of Roman archaeological pieces and sites, continuously faces attacks by Israeli settlers and the Israeli forces, who have their eyes set on its archaeological sites.
In November 2020, Israeli occupation authorities threatened to forcibly remove the 17-meter (56-feet) long Palestinian flagpole erected near the antiquities plaza in the village of Sebastia.
The plaza itself is located in Area B of the West Bank, which is under Palestinian civil control and Israeli military control. ‘Israel’ claims the flagpole provokes the settlers.
In the past years, ‘Israel’ has taken many illegal steps targeting Palestinian heritage sites.
There are nearly 700,000 Israeli settlers living in 256 illegal settlements and outposts scattered across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Israeli settlements are illegal under international law.