Syria complains to UNESCO over alleged Israeli excavations in Golan Heights

Syria has submitted a complaint to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) over alleged archaeological excavations by Israel in the Golan Heights.

The Syrians claim Israeli excavations have been taking place in the village of Bir Ajam, in the Quneitra area along the Syria-Israel border, since mid-July.

Israel captured 1,200 square kilometers (460 square miles) of the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967.

A letter detailing the complaint was sent to Israel’s UNESCO envoy Carmel Shama-Hacohen last week.

Shama-Hacohen dismissed the complaint as “ridiculous” in a statement, saying it highlights the cynical use Arab states are making of UNESCO against Israel.”

Israel’s Antiquities Authority has not commented on the complaint.

Shama-Hacohen was summoned to Jerusalem by Israel on Wednesday for consultation after UNESCO earlier in the day passed the latest resolution on the status of Jerusalem’s Old City ignoring the site’s Jewish history.

A similarly-worded resolution was approved two week earlier in a move criticized by Israel as an attempt to erase Jewish ties to Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the world cultural body ahead of this week’s vote, calling it  “a continuation of the theater of the absurd,” Netanyahu said.

“It is UNESCO that deserves condemnation and not Israel,” he said.

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