JERUSALEM – Israeli Defense Ministry workers damaged an ancient Christian archaeological site while building a security barrier around Jerusalem, the Antiquities Authority said Tuesday, and work was briefly halted.

Israel’s government has ordered a speedup in construction of the barrier, and the haste led to the damage, according to archaeologist Yehiel Zelinger from the Antiquities Authority.

The barrier is designed to cut Israel off from the West Bank, an attempt to block Palestinian suicide bombers and other attackers from entering. The project has come under stiff criticism because it dips into the West Bank,
and near Jerusalem, it cuts through Palestinian villages.

In its rush, the Defense Ministry sent workers with bulldozers into the town of Abu Dis and started work, without coordinating with the Antiquities Authority, he said, and the earth work damaged an ancient Byzantine-era
archaeological site containing a monastery. The Defense Ministry denied the charge…


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