West Bank's Maccabee Palaces Must be Israeli National Park, Settlers Say
Israeli visitors who want to walk in the footsteps of the Maccabees and see one of the remnants of their seats of power are forced to navigate the geopolitics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
That’s because the site of the palaces of the Maccabean High Priest Yohanan, also known as John Hyrcanus, and his son Alexander Jannaeus, are located on the edge of the Palestinian city of Jericho.
The remnants of the palaces, with their ritual baths and the ancient Hashmonaim synagogue, which King Herod converted into his winter palace, are located in Area C of the West Bank, which is under IDF military and civilian control.
Coming and going is restricted, as a result, Israelis have to travel about one kilometer (approximately six-10ths of a mile) through Area A, which is forbidden to them, before they can wander among the ruins, which include remnants of courtyards with pillars and the hall where King Herod’s throne was located.
At present, Israelis can only visit through organized tours that are coordinated with the army. Foreign tourists, in contrast, can enter through Jericho to see the palaces of the ancient Jewish warriors who were at the heart of events upon which the Hanukkah holiday that began on Sunday night is based.
“We expect that the new government will turn it into a national park and open it to the general public,” said Binyamin Regional Council deputy chairman Raful Engel. The ruins are located within his council’s boundaries. The council, along with the right-wing archaeological group Shomrim Al HaNetzach, have worked to preserve the site. (JPost / VFI News)
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