Palestinians Nabbed For Attempting To Steal Byzantine-Era Antiquities

Hebrew inscriptions Israel
Israeli Antiquities Authority

TEL AVIV – Two Palestinians were arrested for trying to steal Byzantine-era antiquities in the West Bank, the IDF’s Civil Administration said on Monday.

A spokesperson for the agency, which is part of the Defense Ministry, said that the two were caught near the West Bank city of Bethlehem with three columns from a Byzantine church in the area. The columns, which are inscribed with a pseudo-Greek text, were found in the back of the suspects’ truck.

Deputy head of the Civil Administration’s archaeological unit Benny Har Even said that the incident proved the need for the Civil Administration to continue its operations against thieves in the area.

“We will continue in the war on the history of Judea and Samaria with operations against antiquities thieves who damage archaeological sites,” he said, using the Hebrew terms for the West Bank.

Columns from a Byzantine-era church confiscated by the Civil Administration from suspected antiquities traffickers near the West Bank city of Bethlehem on July 10, 2017. (Civil Administration spokesperson)

Columns from a Byzantine-era church in the West Bank were found in a truck belonging to two Palestinians. (Photo: Civil Administration spokesperson)

Stolen coins, ancient jewelry, oil lamps and other ritual objects from ancient Hellenistic times to the Middle Ages were found in May during a police raid on a home belonging to a Palestinian man in his 50s in a West Bank village near Hebron.

The cache was worth tens of thousands of dollars, officials said.

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