Palestinians Accuse ‘Israel’ of Stealing 1500-yo Christian Relic from Bethlehem
By Middle East Eye
Palestinians accused ‘Israel’ of an "abominable act of thuggery and cultural appropriation" after a 1500-year-old Christian relic was "stolen" by ‘Israeli’ occupation forces early on Monday.
Video footage posted online by the Palestinian Liberation Organization [PLO] Department of Public Diplomacy and Policy showed ‘Israeli’ forces escorting a large flatbed truck out from the town of Tuqu, in the occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem.
The rare artefact, which dates back to the Byzantine period, was used as a water basin for baptisms and is one of three known relics of its kind.
The other two include one recently discovered at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and another belonging to a church in Beit Jibrin, an ancient Palestinian town left in ruins following the ‘Israeli’ 1948 invasion.
"‘Israeli’ occupation forces stole a historical baptismal font dating back to the 6th century from the city of Bethlehem last night," the office said, sharing a video shot by a local photojournalist.
PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi called the move "an abominable act of thuggery and cultural appropriation" and urged UNESCO and its director-general Audrey Azoulay "to speak out and protect Palestinian heritage".
"A hallmark of ‘Israel's’ system of colonial occupation and oppression has been its disdainful attempts to erase Palestinian presence, culture and heritage, including the illegal appropriation and theft of heritage sites and artifacts," she said in a statement.
It was unclear where the ‘Israeli’ office had taken the relic.
Wafa, the Palestinian Authority's official news agency, accused ‘Israel’ of "frequently" stealing ancient artefacts from its occupied territories "through unauthorized dealers and looters".
"‘Israel’ has been using archeology as a key tool in reinforcing its bogus territorial claims to historic Palestine ... and [to] give them a veneer of historical and religious legitimacy," Wafa said.