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Ministry of Tourism condemns Israeli raid on Sebastiya

June 22, 2014 1:07 P.M. (Updated: June 22, 2014 5:02 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian government condemned Israeli "aggression" against the Sebastiya archaeological site near Nablus on Sunday.

The Ministry of Tourism said in a statement that "over the last week, Israeli bulldozers have been conducting works on the site," which is primarily composed of Roman-era ruins.

In addition to the archaeological significance of the area, the ministry also noted the site's spiritual importance, as it is believed to be the site of the tomb of the John the Baptist by both Muslims and Christians.

"The works done by the illegal occupation forces are in breach of the UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage and the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict with Regulations for the Execution of the Convention 1954," the statement said.

"These illegal attacks on sites within the State of Palestine are happening on a daily basis, from the judeization of Jerusalem to the destruction of cultural and natural heritage by the illegal annexation wall and the theft of archaeological findings from Herodion."

A large number of archaeological, historical, and religious sites in the occupied West Bank are under direct Israel control, and Israeli authorities often allow archaeological ruins found during digs in Palestinian areas to be sent to Israel.

The internationally recognized Palestinian territories have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.
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