IDF arrest six antiquities thieves in West Bank

The IDF and the police have arrested six antiquities thieves in the last two weeks at two separate sites in eastern Samaria.

February 28, 2019 02:07
1 minute read.
IDF arrest six antiquities thieves in West Bank

The four antiquities burglars at the Alexandrium archaeological site.. (photo credit: COGAT)


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The IDF and the police have arrested six antiquities thieves in the last two weeks at two separate sites in eastern Samaria.

Two of the burglars were caught this week “stealing and destroying antiquities at the Tana a-Tahta archaeological site located in eastern Samaria,” according to the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. The two burglars are awaiting trial.

Tana a-Tahta was in use from the Iron Age to the early Islamic period. It includes residential buildings, a bathhouse, ancient residential caves, burial caves, water cisterns and agricultural installations, COGAT said.

Four burglars were caught two weeks ago at the Alexandrium archaeological site by the Civil Administration’s Archaeology Unit and Nature Authority, COGAT said.

Supervisors from the Archeology Unit saw “four suspects engaging in illegal excavation and antiquities theft at the site” of the ancient Hasmonean fortress, COGAT said.

Excavation tools and metal detectors were found among the suspects’ possessions.

Two of the burglars were released after 10 days in prison and a payment of a NIS 2,000 fine. The other two burglars will be held in prison for 35 days and will be assessed a NIS 4,000 fine. The burglars also paid an NIS 8,000 fine for the vehicle that was confiscated, COGAT said.

Hananya Hizmi, the head of the Civil Administration’s Archaeology Unit, said, “The phenomenon of the theft and destruction of antiquities causes both historical and cultural damage to all of the residents of the region.

“We work hard, night and day, in order to ensure quiet, order and lawfulness, and we will act with all of our abilities and capabilities to prevent illegal activity.”

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