A Piece of Ancient Ammunition with a Greek Inscription, Possibly Used in Fighting the Maccabees

At an excavation in the town of Yavneh in central Israel, archaeologists found a lead slingshot “bullet” with the Greek inscription “victory for Heracles and Hauron.” Experts have suggested that it might be a relic from the revolt against the Syrian Greeks that Hanukkah commemorates. Michael Bachner writes:

The Israel Antiquities Authority said in a statement that the sling bullet found in Yavne’s major archaeological site is 1.7 inches long and around 2,200 years old. Its age places it around the time of the battles between the Seleucid army and the Hasmoneans, who were seeking to prevent the Hellenization of the Jews.

The researchers, however, acknowledged that it isn’t known in what context the slingshot was used, and that there was no conclusive evidence that it even belonged to a Greek soldier. “The tiny lead sling bullets, announcing the imminent victory of the gods of pagan Yavne, is tangible evidence of a fierce battle that took place in Yavne at that time,” they added.

According to Yulia Ustinova of Ben Gurion University, who deciphered the inscription, “the pair of gods Hauron and Heracles were considered the divine patrons of Yavne during the Hellenistic period. The inscription on a sling bullet is the first archaeological evidence of the two guardians of Yavne, discovered inside Yavne itself. Until today, the pair was only known from an inscription on the Greek island of Delos.”

Ustinova said the inscription wasn’t a simple call for the deities’ help, but “a threat directed towards adversaries.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Maccabees

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy