170 Dunams Declared as State Land Around the Herodium Archaeological Site

The Civil Administration has announced the declaration of 170 dunams of lands surrounding the archaeological site of Herodium as state land, located east of the city of Bethlehem. This declaration adds to the previously announced 2,600 dunams in the villages of Abu Dis and el-Azariya on February 29, 2024, and the declaration of 8,160 dunams in the Jordan Valley on March 20, 2024. As previously noted, the year 2024 marks a peak in the extent of declarations of state land.

The declaration of state land is one of the main methods by which the State of Israel seeks to assert control over land in the occupied territories. Land declared as state land is no longer considered privately owned by Palestinians in the eyes of Israel, and they are prevented from using it. Additionally, the state leases state land exclusively to Jews.

Throughout the 1980s, Israel declared hundreds of thousands of dunams as state land. The Rabin government decided in 1992 to halt the declarations of state land in the occupied territories, but the first Netanyahu government resumed using this method in 1998. Since then, declarations have been made periodically, amounting to nearly 40,000 dunams.

Herodium Archaeological Park

The Herodium Archaeological Park was declared in 1982 on an area of approximately 1,000 dunams. The site was built by King Herod in the first century BCE as a fortress and palace. From 1972 to 2010, an archaeological excavation was conducted at the site by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The highlight of the excavation was the discovery of Herod’s tomb in 2007. After the discovery of the tomb, the Israeli government invested tens of millions of shekels in renovation, preservation, and restoration. The site is operated by the Civil Administration’s Parks Authority. For further insights into the Herodium Archeological Park, read Emek Shaveh’s report.

Peace Now: “The Netanyahu-Smotrich government continues to invest unprecedented efforts in deepening settlements. The declaration of lands as state land is an Israeli invention aimed at seizing territories in the West Bank and preventing any possibility of development by Palestinians. The Israeli public is fed up with a government that prioritizes settlements and tourism sites in the West Bank, while the economy and Israeli society are crumbling.”