(May 22, 2019 / JNS) Hundreds of people arrived in Kfar Adumim on Tuesday to attend the reinterment of the remains of hundreds of Second Temple-era Jews whose burial cave near Jericho was destroyed by looters.
The remains were found near the Hasmonean Palace in the ancient city of Jericho.
The cave was found by volunteers hiking in the area a few days before Passover, who saw Arabs working with tractors in a protected archaeological area.
The walls of the cave, which bore ancient inscriptions with the names of those buried inside, was badly damaged, and ossuaries had evidently been ripped open in an apparent effort to locate items of value. The bones which had been inside were strewn around atop the debris.
The site is considered the largest Second Temple-era burial ground in Israel.
Archaeologists from Israel’s Civil Administration and officials from the Benjamin Regional Council arranged for re-interment of the bones at the Kfar Adumim cemetery.
The pro-Israel rights group Regavim reported that local farmers told their activists that “the sarcophagi from which the bones were removed had recently ‘disappeared.’ ”
Regavim director Meir Deutsch called the burial “an act of true kindness, not only toward the remains of our ancestors, but to our heritage and our history, which are being brutally trampled by the Palestinian Authority—in Jericho and in thousands of other archaeological sites throughout Judea and Samaria, the land of the Bible and the cradle of Jewish culture.”
Benjamin Regional Council head Yisrael Gantz said he would ensure a “proper memorial stone” at the site in the coming days.