Stolen coins confiscated by police.
(photo credit: COURTESY OF IAA)
A resident of the Negev’s Beduin village of Bir Hadaj was arrested Sunday for looting more than 150 Byzantine-era coins from numerous nearby archeological sites, the Antiquities Authority said Monday.
According to the Authority’s Robbery Prevention Unit, a call was received Sunday afternoon reporting that an unidentified suspect in his 50s was walking around the ruins of the city Halutza with a metal detector.
Following the report, Guy Fitoussi, an inspector of Authority’s Robbery Prevention Unit, rushed to the site and searched the man, who was in possession of the 1,500-year-old coins.
“The suspect was taken for interrogation and released on bail under restrictive conditions,” Fitoussi said, noting that the coins were transferred to Authority’s headquarters in Jerusalem for analysis.
Halutza was one of the largest and most important cities in the Negev during the Byzantine period.
Fitoussi said the law forbids metal detectors and unauthorized visits to antiquities sites, adding that the theft of relics is punishable by up to four years in prison.
“The antiquities robbers rob us all of our history,” he said.
“The Antiquities Authority and the Israel Police view any damage to the antiquities sites in Israel very seriously, and work together to bring the perpetrators to justice,” he added.