A Mother and Daughter Discover a Maccabean-Era Oil Lamp

Dec. 14 2017

Hiking in northern Israel last week, a mother and her daughter discovered a clay oil lamp that experts have dated approximately to the 2nd century BCE—around the time of the Maccabees’ revolt against Greek rule. Daniel Eisenbud reports:

While making their way through the mounds near the historic area by the Jordan River Valley one week ago, Hadas Goldberg-Kedar, age seven, and her mother, Ayelet, first noticed the well-preserved pottery vessel near the entrance to a porcupine cave. Ayelet assumed the relic was left by antiquities thieves and contacted the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Robbery Prevention Unit to report the find.

In short order, Nir Distelfeld, an inspector for the unit—which is dispersed throughout the country to prevent thieves from looting excavation sites—arrived and examined the lamp. [He] determined that the porcupine uncovered the rare find while digging its enclosure for the winter. . . .

“During this period, clay oil lamps began to be produced in formations: the upper and lower parts were produced separately and were then joined together,” said Einat Ambar-Armon [of the Israel Antiquities Authority]. “The new technique enabled the mass production of oil lamps, as well as the addition of a variety of decorations. In later periods, candles and other Jewish decorations sometimes appeared on the oil lamps.”

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More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Hanukkah, History & Ideas, Maccabees

No, Israel Hasn’t Used Disproportionate Force against Hamas

Aug. 15 2018

Last week, Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza launched nearly 200 rockets and mortars into Israel, in addition to the ongoing makeshift incendiary devices and sporadic sniper fire. Israel responded with an intensive round of airstrikes, which stopped the rockets. Typically, condemnations of the Jewish state’s use of “disproportionate force” followed; and typically, as Peter Lerner, a former IDF spokesman, explains, these were wholly inaccurate:

The IDF conducted, by its own admission, approximately 180 precision strikes. In the aftermath of those strikes the Hamas Ministry of Health announced that three people had been killed. One of the dead was [identified] as a Hamas terrorist. The two others were reported as civilians: Inas Abu Khmash, a twenty-three-year-old pregnant woman, and her eighteen-month daughter, Bayan. While their deaths are tragic, they are not an indication of a disproportionate response to Hamas’s bombardment of Israel’s southern communities. With . . . 28 Israelis who required medical assistance [and] 30 Iron Dome interceptions, I would argue the heart-rending Palestinian deaths indicate the exact opposite.

The precision strikes on Hamas’s assets with so few deaths show how deep and thorough is the planning process the IDF has put in place. . . . Proportionality in warfare, [however], is not a numbers game, as so many of the journalists I’ve worked with maintain. . . . Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against the anguish that the action might cause to civilians in the vicinity. . . . In the case of the last few days, it appears that even intended combatant deaths were [deemed] undesirable, due to their potential to increase the chances of war. . . .

The question that should be repeated is why indiscriminate rocket fire against Israeli civilians from behind Gazan civilians is accepted, underreported, and not condemned.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, IDF, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict