Site of the illegal dig
Site of the illegal digIsrael news photo: IAA

Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) inspectors announced the arrest of two Arabs caught red-handed while digging for ancient artifacts at an archaeological site in Jerusalem.

The two men, aged 45 and 53, live in eastern Jerusalem, and were digging off Hevron Road near the entrance to Har Homa. Equipped with advanced electronic equipment for metal detection, they admitted that they were looking for ancient treasures.

Their work caused damage to an ancient mosaic floor, tiles of an apparent bath-house, and walls of ancient structures.

Shai Bar-Tura, deputy director of the Antiquities-Theft Prevention Department of the IAA, said, “It’s true that they were caught digging in the middle of town, but the site is a declared archaeological site. It has remnants of a village from 2,000 years ago, and an ancient waterway that supplied water to the Jews of Jerusalem during the Second Temple period. In addition, remnants of what appears to be a bath-house have been revealed, one that possibly served the Roman army.”

Damaging an archaeological site is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison.