Press release: High Court decision regarding archaeological excavations Tel Rumeida

On 31 December 2014 a hearing was held in the Israeli High Court of Justice regarding the archaeological excavation in Tel Rumeida. The petition was filed by the City of Hebron and the Palestinian residents of Tel Rumeida against the archaeological excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority.[1] The main arguments revolved around the issue of land ownership and the legality of the excavation for the benefit of the Hebron Jewish Committee, which intends to manage the archaeological park.

During the petition, it became clear that the areas where an archaeological excavation is being carried out were leased in 2012 to the Association for the Renewal of the Jewish settlement in Hebron. After the Jewish Committee realized it would not receive permission to build on the site, it was decided to turn the place into an archaeological park. The High Court demanded explanations for the decision to lease an ancient site to a private organization and for why there was no tender on the area. Currently standing in the court is the question of the ownership of the lands, but the claims of Palestinian ownership appear relatively weak. Petitioners (the Hebron Municipality and others) were given 30 days to explain why the transfer of the site to the settlers should be prevented. Then the respondents will be given 30 days to reply to the allegations.

The case is focused on the individual and relatively unusual case of Tel Rumeida in Hebron, but we believe it has broad implications for the management of ancient sites in the West Bank. Tel Rumeida is in the municipal area of the Palestinian city of Hebron, but is considered as part of the H2 area run by Israel. The question of the settlers’ right to manage the ancient site is important and relevant to many other sites in the West Bank, such as Tel Shiloh, Sussia and more.

Tel Rumeida has been undergoing a difficult struggle since the 1980s, wherein the settlers have made great efforts to seize and manage the lands. The High Court’s decision is of great importance for the political struggle in Tel Rumeida. Continuation of the excavation with the Court’s approval would make it much easier for settlers to promote the archaeological park in Hebron and to claim a significant portion of the mound. The next and final debate is expected in a few months.

For further information please see Emek Shaveh’s publication: Tel Rumeidah—Hebron’s Archaeological Park (2014)

Published: 5 January 2015

[1] N. Hasson, Israeli government funding dig in Palestinian Hebron, near Jewish enclave, Haaretz, 9 January 2014; Emek Shave, Update-The archaeological excavations in Tel Rumeida in Hebron, April 2014.



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