UNESCO seeks to save Jewish sites in Iraq from ISIS destruction. But will a plan come together in time to save the tombs of the Biblical prophets, Ezekiel, Daniel and Nahum? More at Israel HaYom:
Ezekiel’s Tomb, outside Baghdad, has been converted into a mosque| Photo credit: Reuters
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization plans to hold a special session in Paris this week, to discuss ways to save Jewish heritage sites in Iraq from being destroyed by the Islamic State group.
UNESCO recently announced an emergency plan to safeguard Iraq’s cultural heritage sites, following growing media reports — including an Israel Hayom exposé — that the jihadist terrorist group has been systematically destroying ancient sites.
In its report, Israel Hayom warned of the irreparable damage caused to Jewish heritage sites in Iraq, including the tomb of the biblical prophet Ezekiel outside Baghdad, Daniel’s Tomb in Mosul, and Nahum’s Tomb near Kush, as well as the destruction of Jewish heritage sites in Islamic State-ravaged areas in Syria, such as the Jobar Synagogue, also known as the Prophet Elijah Synagogue, in Damascus.
Israel Hayom has learned its report had resonated with several international conservation organizations, as well as with UNESCO, which has asked Professor Shmuel Moreh of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who was interviewed in the report, to brief it on the issue and speak before its Paris convention later this week. Journalist Ksenia Svetlov, who wrote the piece, was invited to speak at the meeting as well.
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova recently warned that “Islamic, Christian, Kurdish and Jewish heritage … is being intentionally destroyed or attacked in what is clearly a form of cultural cleansing.”
Other than the physical damage, one of the greatest concerns is that terrorists are plundering ancient sites and selling artifacts on the black market to fund their operations. In a press release posted on its website, UNESCO reiterated that a ban on trafficking in Iraqi cultural objects was adopted by the U.N. Security Council in Resolution 1483 of 2003, and that it is still in effect.
According to the agency’s Emergency Response Action Plan paper, “Relevant parties, including Customs and police at border crossings, Interpol, the World Customs Organization and auction houses, will be alerted and informed about the possibility of illicit trafficking of Iraqi cultural property, as well as the specific measures needed to prevent such acts.”