The Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project and the Security Situation
Due to the “ups and downs” of the security situation in Israel, and in light of the war in Gaza a few years ago (and occasional terrorist attacks at different times), 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! To insure the safety of all participants, the expedition will always strictly follow the safety and security instructions of the authorities. Second of all, keep in mind that often, the situation as reported in the media seems much worse than it actually is!
While 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, two years ago, the site, like many other parts of Israel, were under threat of rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip. This though was only a threat during open hostilities at the time, and in addition to this, the IDFs missile defense system (“Iron Dome”) effectively knocked these rockets out of the sky. But in any case, at all times I and the expedition staff keep a close watch on what is going on, both in the region in general and in the environs of the site, and will inform team members if precautions must be taken.
On weekends, as the volunteers 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 direct 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,