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Israel Museums Hide Art To Protect It From Rockets

But most of Israel's leading museums in the heartland cities of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv â¿¿ far from traditional rocket range â¿¿ have had little reason to fortify artworks in the past.

Even during the current fighting, not all museums have rushed to protect their treasures. The Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv, which displays Near Eastern antiquities and other art, left its works in place. "We don't get into a panic and take stuff from the glass showcases," museum spokeswoman Miri Tsedaka said.

And, despite one instance of rockets aimed toward Jerusalem that landed south of the city, no extra security precautions have been taken at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, the country's central museum housing its most prized antiquities and cultural possessions. "It's business as usual," said director James Snyder.

Lenny Wolfe, a prominent Jerusalem antiquities dealer, said he hasn't moved his valuable ancient objects from his bank's safe deposit box. "I'm more concerned about my own safety and the safety of my own family than a few bits of pottery," Wolfe said.

The only other time the Tel Aviv museum rushed to save its works was during the 1991 Gulf War, when Iraqi Scud missiles pounded the seaside metropolis. At that time, the museum whisked its entire collection of paintings and sculptures into its large vault.

The works that were moved into the safe on Friday include one of the Jewish world's most iconic paintings â¿¿ Polish artist Maurycy Gottlieb's 1878 work, "Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur" â¿¿ as well as some 100 works by sons and relatives of Pieter Brueghel the Elder, and one precious painting by the master himself, the mid-16th century "The Resurrection of Christ."

The Brueghel exhibit had already been crippled by Israel's image as a dangerous place, said the curator, Lurie. He knew museums wouldn't lend him many works by Brueghel himself, so he focused on persuading museums and collectors to lend him works by Brueghel's descendants.

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