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Hamas Bulldozes World Heritage Site to Make Way For Terror Training Camp
Credit: Biblical Archaeology Society
The Anthedon Harbor on the Gazan waterfront is the oldest port in Gaza – it was built 3,000 years ago in the Mycenean era. In 2012, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) accepted the site onto its tentative list for World Heritage status – a status given to sites that hold universal value. In their report, UNESCO says that Anthedon qualifies because it “exhibits an important interchange of human values, over important periods of time that relate to the main trade route crossing the Holy Land from Egypt to the Fertile Crescent and linking Africa and the Middle East to Europe.” None of this seemed to make a difference to Hamas.
Hamas separates its political and military wings in order to maintain a facade of legitimacy for the international community. In this case, the site came under the jurisdiction of Hamas’ Ministry of Tourism. The Ministry claimed that it allowed the site to be used to mitigate Gaza’s chronic lack of housing: “due to rising population in the region, the Ministry appreciates the urgent need for using new pieces of land,” they said in an official statement.
Illustrative: Hamas military training
But Deputy Minister of Tourism in Gaza Muhammad Khela was a little more open about the true purpose of his Ministry’s decision: “We can’t stand as an obstacle in the way of Palestinian resistance; we are all a part of a resistance project,” he said.
Khela’s admission exposes more than just the motivations behind the Anthedon case: it shows that Hamas’ terror and governmental activities are inseparable. More than that, terror is always Hamas’ first priority. When the ‘resistance’ against Israel needs to expand one of its training bases, nothing will stand in its way – including an irreplaceable, millennia-old, internationally-recognised heritage site.