Detailed Ancient Drawings of Ships Discovered in the Heart of Israel’s Desert

Israeli archaeologists digging in the city of Beersheba—located in the Negev desert and many miles from any of the country’s coasts—found a water cistern that they date to the 1st century CE. Amanda Borschel-Dan writes:

A newly discovered water cistern . . . has turned out to be the 2,000-year-old canvas for a series of engravings depicting thirteen sea vessels and even a sailor to steer them. Technical details are included in some of the ship drawings etched into the cistern’s plaster walls, which suggests the graffiti artist had practical knowledge of ship construction, said Davida Eisenberg-Degen, a specialist in rock art and graffiti at the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). . . .

The art-covered cistern was uncovered during IAA excavations ahead of the construction of a new Beersheba neighborhood [called] Rakefet. The roughly 39-foot-deep water-storage pit, with an area of roughly 16.5 by 18 feet, is thought to have been used by a nearby 1st-century Roman-era domicile up through recent times. In excavating the sediment fill, archaeologists uncovered World War I-era ceramic shards, ammunition shells, and other weapon parts.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, History & Ideas, Negev, World War I


The ICJ’s Vice-President Explains What’s Wrong with Its Recent Ruling against Israel

It should be obvious to anyone with even rudimentary knowledge of the Gaza war that Israel is not committing genocide there, or anything even remotely akin to it. In response to such spurious accusations, it’s often best to focus on the mockery they make of international law itself, or on how Israel can most effectively combat them. Still, it is also worth stopping to consider the legal case on its own terms. No one has done this quite so effectively, to my knowledge, as the Ugandan jurist Julia Sebutinde, who is the vice-president of the ICJ and the only one of its judges to rule unequivocally in Israel’s favor both in this case and in the previous one where it found accusations of genocide “plausible.”

Sebutinde begins by questioning the appropriateness of the court ruling on this issue at all:

Once again, South Africa has invited the Court to micromanage the conduct of hostilities between Israel and Hamas. Such hostilities are exclusively governed by the laws of war (international humanitarian law) and international human-rights law, areas where the Court lacks jurisdiction in this case.

The Court should also avoid trying to enforce its own orders. . . . Is the Court going to reaffirm its earlier provisional measures every time a party runs to it with allegations of a breach of its provisional measures? I should think not.

Sebutinde also emphasizes the absurdity of hearing this case after Israel has taken “multiple concrete actions” to alleviate the suffering of Gazan civilians since the ICJ’s last ruling. In fact, she points out, “the evidence actually shows a gradual improvement in the humanitarian situation in Gaza since the Court’s order.” She brings much evidence in support of these points.

She concludes her dissent by highlighting the procedural irregularities of the case, including a complete failure to respect the basic rights of the accused:

I find it necessary to note my serious concerns regarding the manner in which South Africa’s request and incidental oral hearings were managed by the Court, resulting in Israel not having sufficient time to file its written observations on the request. In my view, the Court should have consented to Israel’s request to postpone the oral hearings to the following week to allow for Israel to have sufficient time to fully respond to South Africa’s request and engage counsel. Regrettably, as a result of the exceptionally abbreviated timeframe for the hearings, Israel could not be represented by its chosen counsel, who were unavailable on the dates scheduled by the Court.

It is also regrettable that Israel was required to respond to a question posed by a member of the Court over the Jewish Sabbath. The Court’s decisions in this respect bear upon the procedural equality between the parties and the good administration of justice by the Court.

Read more at International Court of Justice

More about: Gaza War 2023, ICC, International Law