Petition to the High Court Regarding the Nabi Aner Archaeological Site

Press release

Emek Shaveh and Yesh Din petition the High Court: Remove the Excavations and Illegal Construction at the Nabi Aner Archaeological Site


On December 27th, 2017, the head of the Palestinian village council for Ras-Karkar together with two residents of Deir Ammar and human rights organizations Emek Shaveh and Yesh Din petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ), demanding the Court order the Civil Administration to stop the invasion and remove installations built illegally on lands belonging to the villagers, adjacent to the site of Nabi Aner, after repeated requests to clear the illegal construction at the site were unsuccessful.

Nabi Aner is an ancient site located northwest of Ramallah, partly on land belonging to residents of the Palestinian villages of Ras Karkar and Deir Ammar, near the settlements of Niria, Talmon and Dolev. Remains of a Mosque, ritual structure, an olive press, winepresses, burial caves and ruins from a rural Arab village have all been found there, as well as a system of springs whose waters were collected and channeled by the local farmers from the end of the 2nd millennium BCE to the present in a system of aqueducts, canals, and pools and used in the past to irrigate the agricultural lands of residents from nearby villages. The site was named after the prophet Aner and served residents of the area as a pilgrimage site for prayers and for religious and social events.

Since the beginning of the 2000’s as a result of this violence at the hands of Israeli civilians in the area (including attacks on shepherds and farmers, theft of animals and damage to olive trees), the Palestinian landowners have been prevented from accessing their own land at the site, and they are required to coordinate in advance and receive permission from the army for this purpose.

In the summer of 2014, Israelis began to develop the site without the permission of the Palestinian landowners, with the aim of turning it into a tourist and leisure attraction.

According to information published on the Facebook page “Ayanot Aner – Gan Hashlosha,” which is apparently operated by residents from the settlement of Neriah, the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council financed the development work and even the maintenance of the site.  Excavations at the site began in 2014 by “local youth in conjunction with the “Bnei David” army gap-year program located in the settlement of Eli.”  In addition, illegal renovation of pools was conducted, benches and picnic tables were installed, paths were paved and sheds were erected.

In a 2016 newsletter of the Neriah settlement, residents reported on the progress of the renovations in Ein ‘Aner: “We are happy to inform you of the end of another phase (we are nearing the end) of renovations at Eynot Anar. To our great delight, the place is well-traveled and familiar to the general public. Likewise, our ‘dear’ cousins [“cousins” is a derogatory term for Arabs] are by now hardly ever seen there.”.

Therefore, the landowners petitioned the High Court of Justice. The petition states that the phenomenon of expropriation of private Palestinian-owned sites by Israelis who transform them into tourist centers has become a common phenomenon.

Under domestic and humanitarian law Israel has the duty to protect the cultural assets in the area under its military control. However, the State systematically refrains from enforcing the law.