Victory for residents of ‘Anata: They can now return to Tel Almit, an archaeological site on their village grounds

The State announced to the High Court that the site and surrounding private properties have been removed from the Binyamin Regional Council and the Anatot settlement jurisdiction

The village council leader of the Palestinian village ‘Anata petitioned the high court with the support of the organization Emek Shaveh and the Yesh Din association. As a result of the petition the jurisdiction area of the Binyamin Regional Council and the Anatot settlement was successfully changed to exclude the archaeological site Tel Almit, situated on the village lands, as well as the surrounding private properties belonging to petitioners.

In March of this year the town’s residents petitioned the high court following a military order prohibiting them from entering the vicinity of the site. The petition, submitted by the lawyers Shlomi Zacharia and Mohammad Shakir from the Yesh Din legal team, claimed that the site, which includes the ancient tombstone of a sheikh who is considered the founding father of ‘Anata and serves as a place of worship for the village residents, has become a center for tours on behalf of the nearby settlements and political entities, who emphasize the Jewish history of the place and in complete isolation from the history of the residents of ‘Anata. In this way the Palestinians were physically shut out from the place as well as from its history.

Last week, following the petition, the attorney to the court announced that the jurisdiction area of the Binyamin Regional Council and Anatot has been recently amended, “in correspondence to the real estate borders that constitute government property; such that all plots that do not constitute government property have been removed, including the site Tel Almit”.

Yesh Din and Emek Shaveh’s response: “It is completely unclear why the archaeological site was included in the jurisdiction of the settlement in the first place. The only reason seems to be an attempt to annex the area of the archaeological site to a settlement out of disregard for the site’s  historical context and for the heritage of the Palestinian residents of ‘Anata. We are sorry that it took a petition to the high court for the state to take the obvious action – to allow the Palestinians access to the site”.