Israeli Forces Seize Ancient Baptismal Font near Bethlehem

Israeli forces seized on Monday a rare Byzantine-era baptismal font from Tuqu‘ town, near Bethlehem, according to the Palestinian news agency WAFA.

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 approximately 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.

 

Source: The Palestine Chronicle