At the end of last week, inspectors from the Israel Antiquities Authority's (IAA) antiquities robbery prevention unit and Border Police volunteers caught red-handed two Arab antiquities robbers, breaking and smashing with the help of a bulldozer an antiquities site identified in research with the biblical Dovrat in northern Israel.
A few days prior to the incident, IAA inspectors located damage that was carried out at the site, and since then the site has been under constant surveillance. At the end of the week the suspects returned to the site with a bulldozer and began to carry out destructive work in search of antiquities.
During the search, they uncovered and destroyed underground cavities and uprooted masonry stones that were part of the remains of a 2,000-year-old settlement. Fragments of basalt millstones used to grind flour in antiquity and potsherds from the Hellenistic period could be found in the debris of the destruction.
IAA inspectors and Border Police volunteers who arrived shortly afterwards caught two suspects from the nearby village of Daburiya. The two, brothers in their thirties, were brought to the Tiberias police station, interrogated by the Israel Antiquities Authority investigators, and their detention was extended. Yesterday afternoon they were brought before a magistrates court in Tiberias and released on bail. The bulldozer used to carry out the destruction of the antiquities was confiscated, and the authority intends to request that it be impounded.
According to Nir Distelfeld, the inspector of the Antiquities Authority's robbery prevention unit in the northern region, "The illegal and brutal excavations at the archeological sites are causing terrible destruction of heritage sites, and the history of all of us has been damaged forever. This excavation site, near the village of Daburiya from where the robbers came, gets hit time after time with attempts at illegal digging in searches for antiquities. The pursuit of money takes the sense out of people. The scenes at the site are shocking and cause one to shudder, and fortunately they were stopped and greater damage was prevented. It is important to know that digging at an antiquities site is a criminal offense, and that the maximum penalty prescribed for it in the law is up to five years in prison," he said.
The antiquity site known as Horvat Devorah is identified in research with the biblical Dovrat, and with Dvora, described as a Jewish village in the Zippori region in the Roman period. In the past, foundations of buildings, hewn water cisterns and ancient tombs have been found at the site.