Iraq Says Israel Stole Artifacts

Iraq's Interior Ministry is accusing US military-related companies of conspiring to smuggle Babylonian-era Torah manuscripts to Israel.

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Malkah Fleisher , | updated: 4:41 PM

The Iraqi Interior Ministry is accusing security companies working with the American military of smuggling Babylonian-era Torah manuscripts to Israel, according to the London-based Al-Hayyat newspaper.

The Iraqis say American forces and looters pilfered many archeological items, including Babylonian-era Torah scrolls. Retired General Widah Nas'rat of the Interior Ministry's Criminal Investigations department told Al-Hayyat that the Torah manuscripts may have been smuggled to the Jewish State.

According to UNESCO, between 3,000 to 7,000 stolen artifacts are still believed missing from Iraqi museums and cultural centers, including about 40 to 50 that are considered to be of great historic importance.  The items were looted during the overthrow of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, starting in May 2003.

The Jews were exiled to Babylon, which is situated on the area of modern-day Iraq, from the Land of Israel by Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar in the 6th century BCE.  Many of Israel's intellectual and social elite were taken captive and forced to leave Israel for Babylon. 

Also during the Babylonian exile, the prophets Ezra and Nehemia encouraged the Jewish people to return to more obedient Torah observance, and led a small group of believers back to Israel, where they began work on the Second Temple. 

The prophet Daniel interpreted a vision for the last Babylonian king, Belshazzar, foreboding the end of the Babylonian dynasty.  When Daniel would not worship Darius, Babylon's subsequent ruler, Darius threw him into a pit of hungry lions. Daniel survived the ordeal thanks to a miracle, as recorded in the Book of Daniel.



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