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Israel Fears Palestinians May Stake Claim to Historic Dead Sea Scrolls

© Sputnik / Vladimir AstapkovichThe flag on the premises of the Embassy of Israel in Moscow which has suspended its operations as the diplomats go on strike.
The flag on the premises of the Embassy of Israel in Moscow which has suspended its operations as the diplomats go on strike. - Sputnik International
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The scrolls are lauded by Jerusalem as one of their most important national treasures, as the 981 texts are some of the oldest surviving manuscripts of writing included in the Hebrew Bible canon.

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The issue of the scrolls, found in the Qumran caves in an area currently known as the West Bank, was informally raised to Eitan Klein, a deputy director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, last month at a meeting of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

“The Palestinians were said to have raised the issue of the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in case of Illicit Appropriation (ICPRCP). Israel does not sit on this committee and only has observer status,” the Times of Israel reported.

Israel has been having problems with UNESCO after the organization passed resolutions naming the holy sites surrounding Temple Mount as Muslim. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for consultations to protest the decision.

“This is another instance of provocation and the ‘hutzpah’ of the Palestinians trying to rewrite history and erase our connection to our land,” Israel’s envoy to the UN cultural body, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, told the Times of Israel.

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The scrolls, discovered in 1947, are considered by Israel to be some of the most important historical artifacts in the world. They are kept in a climate-controlled storage room that mimics the conditions of the cave in which they were found.

“The fragments of the scrolls are proof and a weighty archaeological evidence of the historical connection of the Jewish People to the Land of Israel,” said Shama-Hacohen on Sunday.

“In any case, just like with the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, the scrolls will stay in our hands and the Palestinians will be left with their dreams,” he said.

On Sunday, Twitter users in Israel also mocked the Palestinians, using the hashtag #PalestinianClaims.

​The hashtag quickly rose to the top trending spot in Israel, as users posted photos of historical artifacts from around the world — including Mount Rushmore and the Mona Lisa — and joked that Palestine would try to claim them next.

Some Palestinians and supporters pushed back on the hashtag, asking users where the scrolls were found, pointing out that it was not in Israel.

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