Unidentified vandals have severely damaged an archeological site near the northern town of Afula on Thursday.
A receptacle containing equipment and antique artifacts was torched in the incident.
The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) estimated that ultra-Orthodox individuals are behind the hostile act.The IAA said that there have been several confrontations recently over the site, which was damaged in the construction of a nearby bypass.
Torched container (Photo courtesy of the IAA)
The police said they have launched a joint investigation with the fire department, but have yet to apprehend any suspects.
On Wednesday, a riot took placein another northern dig, which is being conducted prior to the expansion of Highway 65 in the area; members of the haredi group Atra Kadisha disrupted the archeologists' work after they were informed they cannot loiter there.
Barshad said that the incident was indicative of a wider trend.
"Every time that we confront the haredim in one site, they go damage another site," he said. "(…) If we don't do exactly as they please, they harm archeological digs."
Among the artifacts that were burnt was pottery that was used between the Israelite and Persian periods (1,000-500 BC).
"The damage erased several lines from our history books," Dror Barshad, an IAA archeologist, said.
"Beyond the financial damage, which is estimated at tens of thousands of shekels, the incident has caused irreversible damage… that will prevent us from completing the puzzle of the settlement sequence in the region."
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