Non-governmental organizations leveled heavy criticism at Israel after the Jerusalem District Court on Monday refused to reveal the names of archeologists performing digs at antiquities sites in the occupied West Bank.
According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, the Israeli District Court said archeologists’ names should be kept secret, likewise the location of where dug-up artifacts are stored.
The move was attributed to Israel’s fear of academic boycotts, and the difficulties it would pose for ongoing Israeli archeological projects in the occupied territories.
The decision was issued in response to a petition filed by human rights organization Yesh Din and archeology NGO Emek Shaveh, against the Israeli military government in the West Bank (the Civil Administration) and the staff officer of its Archeology Department, who are responsible for issuing licenses for archeological excavations in the occupied territory.
The petitioners sought information that the military refused to provide as part of a freedom of information request, mainly the names of the archeologists, and where Israeli authorities store antiquities they uncover in the West Bank.
The main thrust of District Court Judge Yigal Marzel’s decision dealt with releasing the names of the archeologists. Judge Marzel recognized the importance of publishing their names, as is customary inside Israel, partly for reasons of transparency, but also because the findings of the excavations are often published academically, which requires publishing one’s name.
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