BAR has been able to confirm a New York Times report that the famous antiquities of Tyre have not been seriously damaged either by the PLO occupation of the site or by the war in Lebanon.
According to the Times, the PLO placed the ancient Roman ruins of Tyre off-limits even to its Lebanese custodians and turned the site into a PLO arsenal.
The PLO stored weapons beneath the seats of the hippodrome, said the Times. When BAR visited the site, styrofoam packing with the impressions of weapons was still to be seen strewn beneath and around the hippodrome. We also observed the now empty rooms beneath the hippodrome seats where archways had been filled in to form storage areas. Sandbagged foxholes were in place for PLO guerrillas stationed at the site.
In 1980, the Lebanese government invited a UNESCO-appointed commission to investigate Tyre’s antiquities in order to determine whether any damage had been done to them. At that time, the Commission was unable to visit the sites because PLO guerrillas were encamped there and would not allow UNESCO observers to enter. Two days after the Israelis entered Lebanon in June 1982, UNESCO applied to the Israeli government for permission to visit the antiquities. Permission was granted and a team of four investigated Tyre’s antiquities from July 11–15, 1982.