Exhibition of stolen Palestinian archaeological artifacts at “Bible Lands Museum”, Jerusaelem

Posted on Mar 12, 2019

The “Bible Lands Museum” in West Jerusalem in collaboration with Israel’s occupation authority is exhibiting, under the Title “Finds Gone Astray”, archaeological artifacts stolen from the Occupied Palestinian Territories .

As noted by the Israeli advocate-activist Ithay Mak, these artifacts were confiscated from robbers who had conducted illegal diggings in the Palestinian Territories in order to sell their finds. That is an illegal activity which damages archaeological sites. However, confiscating these stolen artifacts does not entitle the Israeli authorities to dispose of them at discretion. Under International Law – specifically, the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, under which removing such cultural items from an occupied territory is only permitted in specific and exceptional situations, where this removal is urgently needed to protect such items from damage or destruction in military conflict. An occupying power is certainly not allowed to move such artifacts at its leisure to a museum in its own territory – especially since most Palestinians, in whose territory the artifacts were dug, cannot get into Jerusalem with a special, hard to get permit. The proper way would have been, after recovering the looted artifacts, to pass them on to the Palestinian archaeological authorities and let them be exhibited at a location accessible to all Palestinians.