A Palestinian Authority (PA) court in Hebron convened on Tuesday to discuss a claim filed by a resident demanding that the PA return to his possession a rare collection of coins, banknotes, stamps, research literature and various archaeological finds it had confiscated from him.
The rare collection was confiscated by the PA’s intelligence about a year ago from Anwar Zre’ir, 80, who has devoted his life to research and has accumulated thousands of rare items over the course of 50 years.
Zre’ir, known as Abu Noor, fears that the PA will sell his collection and severely harm his research while concealing the rare historical evidence.
Abu Noor’s relatives told TPS that the PA learned of the existence of the rare collection through an article published on the Al Arabiya Channel about a year and a half ago, and has since repeatedly confiscated parts of the collection.
“Three times the tourist police knocked at his house with an order from the PA’s Antiquities Authority demanding that he hand over the antiques to them and confiscated books of historical value, some of them from the British Mandate,” the Zre’ir family told TPS.
Some evidence suggests that this incident is part of the PA’s efforts to take over archaeological finds and antiquities in the area.
About two years ago, the PA updated its Antiquities Act, stating that any item that preceded 1917 is legally considered an archeological finding. Until the law was amended, the PA relied on a Jordanian law of 1966 that stipulated that only items dated prior to 1700 would be considered antiquated items that the PA can confiscate.
Abu Noor’s associates claim that this is no coincidence, as the PA seeks to place its hand on findings that preceded the beginning of Zionism and the Balfour Declaration for political reasons and to hide evidence of the existence of a political Jewish entity prior to modern Israel.