Police bust Palestinian artifact thieves

Israeli authorities have arrested two Palestinians who tried to sell a looted 1,900-year-old papyrus document in Hebrew worth millions of dollars, police said Wednesday. After receiving information on the men and tracking them for several weeks, police arrested the two Tuesday at a Jerusalem hotel where they had arranged to sell the document, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. They are suspected of violating Israeli antiquities laws by illegally possessing and trafficking in archaeological artifacts, he said, and could face several years in prison if convicted. Police are still trying to determine the origins of the document, he added. The two men, aged 60 and 48, come from the West Bank village of Beit Sahour, outside Jerusalem, he added. The Hebrew document, 15 centimeters by 15 centimeters is a legal text in which a widow named Miriam Bat Yaakov transferred her property to her late husband's brother, said archaeologist Amir Ganor of the government department entrusted with fighting antiquities theft.