Masada and other ancient fortresses may collapse if additional funds are not allocated toward their preservation, experts say.
Masada’s condition began to deteriorate four years ago due to torrential rains, as the accumulated water seeped into the 1,400 meters (4,593 feet) of walls surrounding the site. A few hundred meters of the walls were reinforced, but the remaining parts are still in danger of collapse.
Structures inside the fortress have also eroded due to rain and wind.
Masada, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001, is located in an area that is prone to earthquakes, which experts say may destroy the site entirely.
In addition, vandals recently detached a large part of a fresco from one of Masada’s walls, causing large stones to fall to the ground.
“We have preserved the parts that may endanger human lives, but the rest of the fortress may collapse,” Israel Nature and Parks Authority official Ze’ev Margalit said.
King Herod’s fortress in the Judean desert and the Apollonia Crusader fortress, located just north of Herzliya, as well as many other historical sites across the country are also in bad shape.
“To bring tourists to these locations we must preserve them so that they do not deteriorate,” Margalit said.
The Nature and Parks Authority said an additional $18 million is needed over the next five years for the conservation efforts.
“If we don’t preserve these sites, Israel will have to explain to the world what happened to our cultural assets,” Parks Authority Director-General Eli Amitai said.