Construction on a section of the Israeli security barrier in the East Jerusalem village of Abu Dis severely damaged a sixth-seventh-century Byzantine monastery, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).
The IAA issued a statement saying that Israeli Defense Ministry workers launched their bulldozers before first consulting with the IAA; the Defense Ministry, however, insists that it operated within existing guidelines and had alerted archaeologists to the remains at the site.
IAA Jerusalem district archaeologist Jon Seligman told BAR that although the IAA had had no plans to fully excavate the area, it had been planing to conduct a survey and to request that the security wall be shifted to one side of the site. By the time archaeologists discovered that construction had already gotten underway, almost one third of the quarter-acre site had been damaged. “They damaged quite a large section, measuring about 50 by 165 feet,” Seligman said. “It is without question some of the worst damage I’ve seen at a site in my area in the last few years.”