The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavation and the Security Situation
Due to the “ups and downs” of the security situation in Israel, questions have been asked regarding the safety and security of the participants in the excavation. In fact, throughout the world we are all going through quite troubled times, and being a bit worried is actually a logical (and healthy!) response. This is especially true for those of you that are hearing about the events via the media outside of Israel. Nevertheless, I would like to try and ease your worries a bit.
First of all, as the director of the team, I put the highest priority on ALL safety issues (not only security-related). The constant, overall safety of all participants is always at the top of my list. Thus, we will never do anything that in any way would put any of the participants in any risk! Second of all, keep in mind that often, the situation as reported in the media seems much worse than it actually is!
Tell es-Safi/Gath itself, and the region around it, is not in, or near, the West Bank, Gaza, and/or the border with Lebanon, where most of the acts of violence have occurred in the past. In addition, there have not been any terrorist activities on, or in the vicinity of the Tell. To this can be added that all the activities relating to the excavation (including the excavation itself, field trips, outings, etc.) are conducted under strict supervision (as to where and how we go). And, as an extra precaution, and, for a feeling of extra security, some of the staff on the excavation are armed. During the 2006 season, while “all hell broke loose” in other parts of the country (and in fact, some excavations on the border with Lebanon were cancelled), things were totally quiet and relaxed in and around Tell es-Safi/Gath, and we continued our work, field trips and other activities, unhindered and in a totally safe environment.
On weekends, as the team members make their plans to go sightseeing, we carefully review their itineraries, to ensure that they are not planning to go to any dangerous areas.
Thank G-d, we have never had any security-related problems and I hope and pray that this will continue. If I may add, it should be remembered that the main objective of terrorism is to obstruct us from living our lives in a usual manner. Yes, we must be more aware of security-related issues (and take these matters seriously), but, on the other hand, we will continue with our plans, and yes, we will be out in the field this season!!
Hoping that you will join us this season,
All the best,
Prof. Aren M. Maeir, Director