BETHLEHEM, Monday, July 20, 2020 (WAFA) – Israeli forces predawn Monday seized a rare Byzantine-era baptismal font from Tuqu‘ town, southeast of Bethlehem city.
WAFA photojournalist Oday Daibes posted a video showing Israeli soldiers escorting a forklift truck transferring the stone-made font, which dates back to the fifth or sixth century A.D., from the town.
A documentary prepared by Jerusalem’s Christian Media Center reveals that the rosy font, which weighs approx. eight tons, was part of a local Byzantine-era church.
The font was seen placed for long at the site of the ancient church in Khirbet Tuqu‘, the ancient town of Tuqu‘, before being stolen by unauthorized dealers using a huge forklift in 2000.
In 2002, Tuqu‘ Municipality managed to retrieve the font and placed it in the vicinity of the mayor’s house, pending the construction of a local museum.
The stolen 1500-year-old receptacle is one of three rare baptismal fonts hewn in rosy rock. The two others include the one recently discovered at the Church of the Nativity and another belonging to Beit Jubrin Church.
Israel has frequently stolen and acquired ancient artifacts from the occupied territories through unauthorized dealers and looters.
Israel has been using archeology as a key tool in reinforcing its bogus territorial claims to historic Palestine, including “Judea and Samaria”, the Jewish nationalist name used to refer to the occupied West Bank, and give them a veneer of historical and religious legitimacy.
There are almost 834,000 Israeli settlers living in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.