Remnants of an Ancient Roman Road Discovered outside Jerusalem

March 14 2017

Excavating the area outside the Jerusalem suburb of Beit Shemesh, archaeologists have found traces of a 2,000-year-old road that once connected a Roman town with the area’s then-major highway, known as the Emperor’s Road. The Israel Antiquities Authority writes:

[The highway] connected the large settlements of Jerusalem and Eleutheropolis (now Beit Guvrin) [to the southwest]. The construction of the Emperor’s Road is thought to have taken place at the time of Emperor Hadrian’s visit to the country, circa 130 CE, or slightly thereafter, during the suppression of the Bar Kokhba revolt in 132-135 CE. The presence of a milestone bearing the name of the emperor Hadrian, previously discovered nearby, reinforces this hypothesis.

Coins were [also] discovered between the pavement stones: a coin from the second year of the Great Revolt [against Roman rule] (67 CE), a coin from the Umayyad period [the 7th and 8th centuries], a coin of the prefect of Judea, Pontius Pilate, dating to 29 CE, and a coin of King Agrippa I from 41 CE that was minted in Jerusalem.

Up until 2,000 years ago, most of the roads in the country were actually improvised trails. However, during the Roman period, as a result of military campaigns, the national and international road network started to be developed in an unprecedented manner. The Roman government was well aware of the importance of the roads for the proper running of the empire.

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More about: Ancient Israel, Ancient Rome, Archaeology

Israel Should Try to Defang Hamas without Toppling It

Feb. 22 2019

For the time being, Hamas has chosen to avoid outright war with the Jewish state, but instead to apply sustained, low-intensity pressure through its weekly border riots and organizing terrorist cells in the West Bank. Yet it is simultaneously engaged in a major military build-up, which suggests that it has not entirely been deterred by the previous three Gaza wars. Yaakov Lappin considers Jerusalem’s options:

In recent years, the Israel Defense Force’s southern command, which is responsible for much of the war planning for Gaza, identified a long-term truce as the best of bad options for Israel. This is based on the understanding that an Israeli invasion of Gaza and subsequent destruction of the Hamas regime would leave Israel in the unenviable position of being directly in charge of some two-million mostly hostile Gazans. This could lead to an open-ended and draining military occupation. . . .

Alternatively, Israel could demolish the Hamas regime and leave Gaza, putting it on a fast track to a “Somalia model” of anarchy and violence. In that scenario, . . . multiple jihadist armed gangs lacking a central ruling structure would appear, and Israel would be unable to project its military might to any single “return address” in Gaza. This would result in a loss of Israel’s deterrent force on Gaza to keep the region calm. This scenario would be considerably worse than the current status quo.

But a third option, in between the options of leaving Gaza as it is and toppling Hamas in a future war, may exist. In this scenario, the IDF would decimate Hamas’s military wing in any future conflict but leave its political wing and police force in place. This would enable a rapid Israeli exit after a war, but avoid a Somalia-like fate for Gaza with its destructive implications for both Israelis and Gazans. . . .

On the one hand, Hamas’s police force is an intrinsic support system for Gaza’s terrorist-guerrilla forces. On the other hand, the police and domestic-security units play a genuine role in keeping order. Such forces have been used to repress Islamic State-affiliated cells that challenge Hamas’s rule. . . . Compared to the alternative scenarios of indefinite occupation or the “Somalia scenario,” a weakened Hamas might be the best and most realistic option.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security