2,000 Jewish heritage sites in Iraq and Syria listed for protection from bombing
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2,000 Jewish heritage sites in Iraq and Syria listed for protection from bombing

Researchers in the UK, US and Israel co-operate to identify ancient sites which if damaged can be a war crime prosecutable at the International Criminal Court.

The Sassoon Synagogue in Mosul
The Sassoon Synagogue in Mosul

Researchers from the UK, US and Israel have given Western militaries active in the skies over Iraq and Syria a list of ancient Jewish heritage sites for bombers to avoid.

The landmark inventory lists the nature and coordinates of more than 2,000 “nationally and internationally important Jewish heritage sites” in order to protect them in the event of armed conflict.

Work was undertaken by the UK based Foundation for Jewish Heritage (FJH), the Center for Jewish Art (CJA) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR).

The trio said it had been “transferred to trusted military partners representing European and western powers, including the UK Ministry of Defence, who are known to operate in good faith and to uphold the principles of international law”.

Inventory of Jewish heritage sites in Iraq and Syria to avoid

Intentional damage to cultural property and buildings dedicated to religion can be a war crime, prosecutable at the International Criminal Court.

FJH chair Dame Helen Hyde said: “We are delighted that these important Jewish heritage sites will receive this protection in the event of war. It is another example of how our unprecedented Jewish heritage research work has demonstrated its value.”

Chief executive Michael Mail said: “Preserving cultural heritage in conflict zones is now recognised internationally as a major concern and significant Jewish heritage sites should also receive the benefit of being identified and safeguarded in this way.”

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