Thursday, 20 October 2016

Israel’s Antiquities chief slams UNESCO, compares it to Islamic State jihadists

The director of the Israel Antiquities Authority on Wednesday slammed UNESCO for its resolution on Jerusalem holy sites, comparing the UN cultural body to Islamic State jihadists.

Speaking at the opening of the new IAA headquarters in Jerusalem, director Yisrael Hasson said the resolution adopted last week and confirmed on Tuesday put the UN organization in the same league as IS jihadists who have destroyed and looted hundreds of archaeological sites in Syria and Iraq to fund their “caliphate.”

“Around us, world heritage treasures are being destroyed… They murdered Syrian archaeologist Khaled al-Asaad, who tried to protect heritage,” Hasson said recalling the 82-year-old retired head of antiquities in Palmyra who was beheaded by IS militants last year.


IS overran Palmyra — a UNESCO world heritage site known as the “Pearl of the Desert” — in May 2015 and used its ancient amphitheater for public executions.

The extremist group blew up temples and tower tombs as part of it campaign against pre-Islamic monuments it considers “blasphemous.”

“And recently UNESCO in essence joined this system of destruction by diplomatic means. This is essentially the same action by a diplomatic course,” Hasson said.

Kadima MK Yisrael Hasson, at the Knesset. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
File: Israel Antiquities Authority head and former MK Yisrael Hasson, at the Knesset. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Damascus-born Hasson, a former Knesset member and deputy director of the Shin Bet, is the latest in a string of Israeli officials to slam the UNESCO decision, which Israel says ignores Jewish and Christian historical ties to Jerusalem’s holiest sites.

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