WATCH: Levaya Held For Hundreds of Bayis Sheini-Era Kevarim Desecrated By Palestinians in Yericho

The remains believed to be of Bayis Sheini-era Jews, exposed when their tombs near Yericho were damaged by Palestinians (Credit: Regavim)

The remains of hundreds of Bayis Sheini-era Jews who were buried in the Yericho area were re-interred on Tuesday in the nearby settlement of Kfar Adumim, after they were found scattered outside tombs damaged by Palestinian agricultural work in the area.

According to the pro-settlement group Regavim, the tombs were “looted by Arab grave-robbers.”

The remains were discovered several days before Pesach, by “Preserving the Eternal” volunteers hiking near the Hasmonean Palace in Jericho, one of the world’s oldest cities. They were horrified by what they found: The cave’s burial niches were severely damaged, and countless human skulls, skeletons, and scattered bones were strewn over the freshly-turned earth. They were told by the local farmers that the sarcophagi (ancient caskets) from which the bones were removed had recently “disappeared.”

It appeared the remains had been exposed by heavy machinery – used by local Arabs to level the ground for illegal agricultural use.

Hundreds attended a Levaya for the remains, including residents from nearby Jewish communities, rabbinic leaders, senior officials from the Defense Ministry’s Civil Administration and other public figures.

The Levaya was organized by archaeologists from the Civil Administration and the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council.

Regavim director Meir Deutsch called the burial “an act of true grace, not only toward the remains of our ancestors but to our heritage and our history, which are being brutally trampled by the Palestinian Authority – in Jericho and in thousands of other archaeological sites throughout Judea and Samaria, the land of the Bible and the cradle of Jewish culture,” according to quotes from the funeral released by Regavim.

Mateh Binyamin Council head Yisrael Gantz blasted the “greedy, callous thieves who have no respect for human dignity [and] laid their hands on the remains of our ancestors.’”