Ancient Jerusalem cave 370.
(photo credit: Antiques Authority)
Police arrested two men in their 20s late Monday night after catching them
digging in protected antiquities areas near Jerusalem’s Old City.
and the Antiquities Authority’s Theft Prevention Unit caught the men in the
middle of digging after receiving a tip from hikers who saw three men trying to
break into a tomb three weeks ago.
Police arrested the men, who were
using shovels and crowbars to break into an ancient cave near the Church of
Gethsemane on the slopes of the Mount of Olives. The men said they were “looking
for buried treasure,” according to Antiquities Authority spokeswoman Yoli
“The Kidron Valley area is the richest area in the tombs of the
second temple in Jerusalem and the Byzantine period,” said Dr. Eitan Klein,
deputy director of the Theft Prevention Unit, in a statement released by the
“In the ancient stone tombs, most of which are sealed with
large and heavy stones, there are sometimes burial objects placed with the
deceased, such as oil lamps, glassware and other things.
were expensive in ancient times, and today they have even greater value,” he
said, adding that many of the burial objects are well-preserved and intact
because they have been protected for so many years inside the sealed
The tourists first reported the group of thieves on the
Antiquities Authority website.
The report spurred the police and the
Theft Prevention Unit to undertake an operation to catch the thieves in the
The men were arrested late on Monday and remanded by the Jerusalem