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The Antiquities Authority and UNESCO initiated an international workshop to deal with dangers to world heritage sites

Earthquakes like the ones that destroyed Beit Shean or human pests like the ones that damaged the National Archaeological Park in Ovadat a few months ago endanger the heritage sites. The Antiquities Authority and the Israeli Committee for UNESCO warn of the danger

The damage caused to the archaeological garden in Abedat. Photo: Israel Police website
The damage caused to the archaeological garden in Abedat. Photo: Israel Police website
Jerusalem, Masada Caesarea... are they here to stay? The Antiquities Authority and the Israeli Committee for UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) warn that the heritage sites in Israel are at risk of destruction in the event of natural disasters and destruction of heritage sites by humans.

Out of a desire to prepare for possible emergency scenarios and to protect the heritage sites in Israel, which are among the most important in the world, this week the Antiquities Authority and the Israel Committee for UNESCO convened a three-day international expert workshop, for consultation and brainstorming with experts from around the world who deal with dangers and natural disasters. Experts from different countries came to Acre, such as Italy, Jordan, Japan, China, Peru, and Tanzania.

According to Raanan Kaslio, Director of the Preservation Administration at the Antiquities Authority, "Israel is in a high risk area of ​​earthquakes. This is due to its proximity to the Great Rift - an area of ​​active faults where strong earthquakes have already occurred, leaving behind the destruction of cities in Israel and nearby areas. The last major earthquake occurred in Israel in 1927. A high-intensity earthquake can cause heavy damage to life and property - including, irreversible damage to cultural heritage, especially in sites located a few kilometers away from the Rift Valley. Among these sites are also parts of Old Jerusalem, Masada, and Beit Shan."

Kaslio further added that "due to the collapse of the sea cliff due to a change in sea level, there is a tangible danger of erosion and collapse to many heritage sites along the coast (Apollonia, Caesarea, Ashkelon and Atlit). Referring to the case of vandalism in Abdat, he said that "this illustrates the need to protect the heritage sites from intentional damage, by establishing appropriate safeguarding and security systems." The director of the Antiquities Authority, Shoka Dorfman, announced that "the test of the organizations responsible in the State of Israel for saving the sites of the most significance to humanity, will be in the preparation and coordination between the preliminary ministries and not in the investigation of the day after."

The Israel Antiquities Authority is committed to leading a process of preparing for risks to heritage sites in Israel and around the world. Preparing for the risks facing cultural heritage sites is a common challenge for all countries of the world. The Antiquities Authority, together with UNESCO, held a workshop that positioned Israel as the leader of a process, which resulted in the construction of a rapid response mechanism to minimize damage in the event of an emergency, and to improve the ability to respond and restore due to natural disasters."

He also informed the conference attendees that "the Antiquities Authority is ready to cooperate with any professional body in the world in order to investigate and prepare well for a possible natural disaster." The chairman of Israel's World Heritage Committee, UNESCO representative, the architect Professor Mike Turner, said that "Israel is a very important center and junction in the history of the world. As such, it is rich in sites of world importance, representing all historical periods and the 3 religions. This important workshop is the second in a series of workshops held by UNESCO, which aim to provide a cure for the scourge. The first workshop was held a year ago in Olympia, Greece. All the experts who participated in the workshop share the concern and desire to protect the heritage sites from dangers. We have the duty to preserve these sites, also for the sake of the generations that come after us."

Against the background of the workshop, all XNUMXth grade students in middle schools in Acre participated in an activity under the guidance of the Antiquities Authority, which dealt with the dangers to cultural heritage sites in Israel and the importance of safeguarding these sites. According to the Director of the Educational Center of the Antiquities Authority in the North, Nirit Koren-Lawrence, "The students demonstrated proficiency and understanding of the dangers that threaten the sites. It is very important to raise awareness for the protection of these cultural assets, also for future generations. The Antiquities Authority works through education and the participation of the public to protect the sites - especially against dangers from human hands, so that the Abdat case does not happen again."

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