An Ancient Persian Military Base Discovered in Northern Israel

The book of Esther describes the Persian king Ahasuerus as having reigned over an empire that stretched “from India to Ethiopia”—and thus, as a matter of simple geography, must have included Egypt. It was Cambyses II, the son and successor of Cyrus the Great, who added Egypt to the vast empire he inherited in the late 6th century BCE. Recently, archaeologists have discovered the ruins of a Persian military base near the Israeli city of Acre that Cambyses likely used in preparing for his campaign against the pharaoh, writes Philippe Bohstrom. (Free registration required.)

Among the findings at Tel Keisan, a hill rising 28 meters from the coastal plain . . . in northern Israel, were ruins dated to the Persian period by ceramic jars and cooking pots in the Greek and Phoenician styles typical of that time. The Phoenicians . . . and their fleet had been subjugated by the Assyrians and then by the Persians; and the ancient Greek historian Herodotus said that Greek mercenaries fought in the Persian emperor Cambyses’ army. The Greek and Phoenician ceramic finds in the Persian layer of Tel Keisan [thus] suggest that this area was part of the base camp of the great Achaemenid campaign.

It was on the Acre plain that Cambyses assembled his army that would sweep down to Egypt, in the 520s BCE. Why were the Persians so adamant about conquering Egypt, aside from the usual human weakness for building empires? One reason is because the various empires in the Levant and Middle East considered Egypt to be a major threat. That is just one more reason for their desire to control the land of Israel—a fertile land with a long coast, and a convenient [place from which to launch] attacks on Egypt. Or, at least, to contain Egypt’s influence over the Levant. . . .

The forces Cambyses massed on the coast would have needed a huge apparatus and an incredible amount of resources. Tel Keisan would have been only one of a series of supply points along the Acre plain, Indeed the archaeologists found remnants of storage jars and cooking pots in large quantities that may have been used by Cambyses’ armies. A key bit of evidence was a large pit with organic debris and substantial quantities of pottery, some of which was Phoenician pottery and some imports from Greece, mainly from Athens.

Read more at Haaretz

More about: Ancient Greece, Ancient Persia, Archaeology, Esther, History & Ideas, Phoenicia

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security