A Rare Mosaic Discovered in Caesarea

Feb. 13 2018

Archaeologists excavating in the coastal city of Caesarea have uncovered a colorful and sophisticated mosaic dating from the 2nd or 3rd centuries CE. Some 300 years later, a sort of Byzantine shopping mall had been built on top of it, obscuring it until now. Amanda Borschel-Dan writes:

[This] is one of the few extant examples of a mosaic from this time period in Israel; its craftsmanship is compared by archaeologists to the fine artistry found in Antioch. . . . According to Peter Gendelman and Uzi Ad, the directors of the excavation for the Israel Antiquities Authority, the mosaic . . . was once part of an even earlier building from approximately 1,800 years ago.

According to the archaeologists, the mosaic measures 3.5-by-8 meters and is “of a rare high quality.” . . . There are three figures depicted on the uncovered section, as well as typical multicolored geometric patterns, which were formed using small tesserae (mosaic pieces) placed densely at about 12,000 stones per square meter. . . .

Of potentially even more interest than the beautifully formed images is a long inscription in ancient Greek. It was unfortunately damaged by the Byzantine building constructed on top of it, but is being studied now by the epigrapher Leah Di Segni from the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology. . . .

The mosaic dates from when the area was the Roman Empire’s administrative center in the province of Judea.

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More about: Ancient Israel, Ancient Rome, Archaeology, Byzantine Empire, History & Ideas

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