Working together
Photo: Orit Bortnick

Jews, Bedouins join forces to restore Avdat National Park

Teens from Jewish, Bedouin schools work together with newly recruited soldiers in cleaning, preparation activities ahead of restoration of site severely damaged by vandalism. 'Avdat is a world heritage site, its importance exceeds narrow realm of Jews, Christians, Arabs,' says Nature and Parks Authority official

Following the vandalizing of the Avdat National Park two weeks ago, a need arose to perform a clean-up job and preparation of the violated artifacts ahead of the arrival of professional conservation teams. In recent days, Bedouin and Jewish youths residing nearby rose to the task and started helping with the first stages of restoration and conservation works.


The teens made sure that the site sustained no further damage other than what already has been caused following the severe vandalizing the site has undergone. Students of the Avdat Bedouin School and the Mashabim Junior High engaged in filling gaps and fortifying foundations before the professional conservation teams begin restoring the site.


Professionals estimate that restoration costs will amount to roughly NIS 10 million (roughly $2.7 million) and will last approximately one year.

Jewish and Bedouin teens work in Avdat 


Next Sunday the government is scheduled to discuss ways to support the restoration efforts of the park which was declared in 2005 as a world heritage site by the Unites Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization (UNESCO).


Additional groups of Bedouin and Jewish teens are slated to arrive in the site in the coming days in order to learn about the damage and assist in the initial restoration stages.


"The students arrived with excitement and were willing to perform manual labor with a sense of vocation and connection to the site which is a natural part of their living environment," said Orit Bortnick who is in charge of conservation in the Nature and Parks Authority's southern district. "Granted, these are only initial arrangements and sorting activities but they are important and will make a significant prelude to the start of the professional conservation teams' work," she added.

Groups of new army recruits to arrive in coming days


"The teens' and school directors' immediate commitment to the task is heartwarming and gives us strength to carry on with this holy task of resorting the severe damages to an important historic site," said Eli Amitay chairman of the Nature and Parks Authority.


"Our country's history and culture does not distinguish between religion and descent and everyone views these cultural values as cornerstones for our existence here – It wasn't a coincidence that UNESCO chose the spot as a world heritage site," Amitay noted.


'Restoration process expensive, complex'

The authority chairman also commented, "We were glad to see all of the schools immediately take to the task viewing the educational and principle importance of this mission…This is a first step in a long restoration process which is expensive and complex and we were pleased that we took this step together – Jews and Bedouins alike, committed to rehabilitating the wounds of Avdat."


The youths were joined by Givati soldiers training nearby. The Southern Command chief instructed the army officers to assist where they can in restoration activities and groups of soldiers are slated to support the restoration efforts in the coming weeks.


"It is a most blessed and important venture in both the declarative and principle level," Bortnick concluded.


"Avdat is a world heritage site – its importance exceeds the narrow realm of Jews, Christians or Arabs and it belongs to world history and culture as a whole. The fact that Bedouin and Jewish teens from the area are working side by side is an example of that and sends a message to whomever seeks to cause damage to the site."


פרסום ראשון: 10.20.09, 07:43
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