A Road through Ancient Israel, Built by One of Its Most Notorious Enemies

To Niccolò Machiavelli, Hadrian was one of Rome’s “five good emperors,” who presided over an unrivaled period of prosperity and stability; to Britons, he was the builder of the famous wall that runs the width of England; to Jews, he was the ruler who directed the bloody suppression of the Bar Kokhba revolt in 135 CE and the subsequent persecutions, renamed Jerusalem “Aelia Capitolina” (after himself), and erased Judea from the map—dubbing it Syria Palistaena. He also built one of the ancient Levant’s major thoroughfares, a segment of which was recently excavated. The Times of Israel reports:

Archaeologists have uncovered part of an 1,800-year-old Roman road in northern Israel, built in the time of emperor Hadrian, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced.

In a statement, the IAA said the road section, measuring some 8 meters (26 feet) wide and 25 meters (82 feet) long, was found near the village of Rumat al-Heib, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) west of the city of Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee. It was discovered during development work on a walking trail. The IAA branded the road as “the Highway 6 of the ancient world,” referencing Israel’s major north-to-south highway.

It said the road, which runs through Acre, Sepphoris, and Tiberias, was paved in the 2nd century CE during Hadrian’s reign. The road was completed by his successors and later renovated in the Byzantine period. The Roman empire established several major roads in the area as part of a need to quickly move military forces, mail, and goods, the IAA said in its statement Thursday.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Israel, Ancient Rome, Archaeology, Simon bar Kokhba

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