EAA Statement on Threats to Archaeology and Archaeologists arising from the Israel/Gaza crisis


The European Association of Archaeologists is the largest membership organisation of archaeologists in Europe and is committed to the promotion and protection of cultural heritage. We are concerned at the effects on cultural heritage and our archaeological colleagues of events in the Middle East arising from the current Israel/ Gaza crisis. We have deep concerns and compassion for the unbearable human suffering and call on all parties involved in the conflict to strive for immediate solutions that safeguard human lives, and the cultural heritage on the region.

We have a commitment to the holistic preservation of the integrity, authenticity and diversity of the rich cultural heritage that is located in the region and which is the expression of a multicultural and multireligious past and present of this region. We therefore deplore and condemn any act of damage, destruction or distortion of cultural heritage sites, including relevant museums and archives, which has happened because of a conflict or of the lack of respect for any of the cultures that have flourished in the region. The EAA is also committed to keep a vigilant eye on the removal and circulation of cultural objects, which are stolen or illegally exported from their archaeological, cultural context or museum/archive collection amidst the current state of armed conflict in the region, in line with the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export, and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970) and the UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen and Illegally Exported Cultural Objects (1995).

We call upon all parties to such conflicts – whether directly involved or acting in support of combatants – to consider, among their concerns, the implementation of appropriate strategies to safeguard the cultural heritages of the region. We implore them to adhere to the Hague Conventions on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954) and its First (1954) and Second Protocols (1999) and other relevant materials and rules. It is crucial that armed operations avoid targeting archaeological and cultural heritage sites, and maintain a safe distance from their immediate surroundings.

We have an additional concern for the safety of, and effects of the conflict on, our colleagues in the region, regardless of citizenship, ethnicity, religion or political or other allegiance, and the communities with which they work.

As archaeologists, we wish to emphasize, in the strongest terms possible, that cultural heritage is a fundamental pillar for the existence, identity and well-being of human societies – not only as material relics, but also as witnesses of the past. The maintenance of cultural heritage is therefore an irreplaceable component of basic human rights. Out of respect for human life and the shared history that binds us all together, regardless of religion or nationality, the EAA strongly urges that all acts of war and violence must cease immediately.