Jerusalem, Masada, Caesarea … are they here to stay? The Israel Antiquities Authority and the Israel National Commission for UNESCO (the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization) have warned that the heritage sites in Israel are at risk of destruction in the event of natural disasters and being vandalized by man.
Out of a desire to prepare for possible emergency scenarios and to protect the heritage sites in the country that are among the most important in the world, the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Israel National Commission for UNESCO this week convened a three dayinternational workshop of experts for the purpose of brainstorming and consulting authorities from around the world who cope with risks and natural disasters. Experts arrived in Akko from many different countries such as Italy, Jordan, Japan, China, Peru and Tanzania.
According to Ra’anan Kislev, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority Conservation Department, “Israel is located in a region that is highly susceptible to earthquakes because of its proximity to the Rift Valley – a region of active faults where strong earthquakes have already struck that have left destroyed cities in their wake in Israel and neighboring lands. The last great earthquake struck Israel in 1927. An earthquake of high magnitude can cause severe damage to life and property, including irreversible damage to cultural heritage, especially at sites which are situated just a few kilometers from the Rift Valley. The Old City of Jerusalem, Masada and Bet She’an are amongst these sites”. Kislev also said, “Due to the collapse of the coastal cliff owing to changes in the sea level, many heritage sites along the coast are in real danger of erosion and collapse” (Apollonia, Caesarea, Ashkelon and Atlit). With regards to the case of vandalism at ʽAvdat he said, “This demonstrates the need to protect heritage sites from intentional damage by establishing suitable guard and security systems.”