Researchers say ancient Philistine town located in Israel

A skeleton discovered at the excavation site of the first Philistine cemetery ever found in the Mediterranean coastal Israeli city of Ashkelon, on June 28, 2016 shows. (File/AFP/Menahem Kahana)
Updated 08 July 2019

Researchers say ancient Philistine town located in Israel

  • Researchers in Israel they’ve found the site of an ancient Philistine town mentioned in the bible
  • The site, Khirbet Al-Rai, is located near Kiryat Gat in central Israel

JERUSALEM: Researchers in Israel said Monday they have pinpointed the site of an ancient Philistine town mentioned in the biblical tale of David seeking refuge from the Israelite king Saul.
Ziklag was a town under the rule of a Philistine king in nearby Gath after the ancient “sea peoples” began arriving in the region in the 12th century BC, the researchers say.
A biblical tale says the town became the unlikely seat of David before his anointment as king in Hebron following Saul’s death.
Ziklag’s location has been the subject of scientific debate, with 12 possible locations named in southern Israel.
None of the sites, however, had the necessary evidence of consecutive Philistine and Israelite settlement to fit what is believed to be the historical narrative, the Israeli Antiquities Authority said in a statement.
Now researchers from the IAA, Hebrew University and Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, say they have found a Philistine-era settlement under a rural one from the historical era linked to the biblical King David.
Those findings have led them to believe it is Ziklag, the statement said.
The site, Khirbet Al-Rai, is located near Kiryat Gat in central Israel.
Researchers have excavated finds typical of the Philistine civilization as well as pottery vessels connecting it to the historical era identified with the biblical David, the statement said.
The Philistines are believed to have arrived in the region in the 12th century BC, with DNA tests on their bones recently suggesting their origin to be in southern Europe.
They ruled what is today part of central and southern Israel and the Gaza Strip and were a feared enemy of the Israelites.
In the biblical narrative, David sought refuge in Ziklag from Saul, who was trying to kill him.
David fled the boundaries of the Kingdom of Israel to the coastal area under the rule of the Philistines.
As relayed in the first book of Samuel, when Saul heard David was in the Philistine city of Gath, “he sought him no more.”
David then requested — and received — the town of Ziklag, which remained property of Judean kings, the bible says.


Israel approves new settlement 2 days before polls: official

Updated 15 min 46 sec ago

Israel approves new settlement 2 days before polls: official

  • Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet agreed to turn the wildcat settlement of Mevoot Yericho in the Jordan Valley into an official settlement

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government approved a new settlement in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, his office said, just two days ahead of closely fought general elections.

Netanyahu’s cabinet agreed to turn the wildcat settlement of Mevoot Yericho in the Jordan Valley into an official settlement, the premier’s office said.

All settlements are viewed as illegal under international law, but Israel distinguishes between those it has approved and those it has not.

Sunday’s approval follows Netanyahu’s pledge last week to annex the Jordan Valley, which amounts to one-third of the West Bank, if he wins Tuesday’s elections.

“The government passed the PM’s motion to build Mevoot Yericho,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office said as the weekly cabinet meeting was convened ceremoniously in the Jordan Valley.

Netanyahu has also said he intends to annex settlements in the wider West Bank, but in coordination with US President Donald Trump, whose long-awaited peace plan is expected to be released after the election.

The prime minister’s annexation plans could effectively destroy any remaining hopes for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Palestinians, the European Union and the United Nations condemned Netanyahu’s Jordan Valley announcement last week.

Netanyahu said the Jordan Valley annexation would not include Palestinian cities such as Jericho, but it would effectively be encircled by Israeli territory.

Netanyahu is locked in a tough re-election battle with ex-military chief Benny Gantz and his Blue and White centrist alliance, and right-wing nationalist votes are key for his Likud.