Coin and Songbird Smugglers Arrested

YERUSHALAYIM -

Customs inspectors prevented the smuggling of ancient Roman and Mamluk coins into Israel from Jordan, Arutz Sheva reported on Sunday.

When inspectors noticed the man’s coat was suspiciously heavy, they conducted a search, which revealed a bag of 53 coins, including some believed to date as far back as the Bayis Sheini period.

The smuggler was identified as a resident of the Palestinian Authority city of Tulkarm.

The suspect was transferred to the Civil Authority’s Archaeological Division.

“These findings represent 1,400 years of regional history, from the ancient Roman period to the Mamluk period during the 13th century. I am happy to see continued cooperation between the relevant authorities, and am glad we have prevented someone from stealing a piece of everyone’s history,” said Civil Authority Archaeological Division Vice Chief Benny Har-Even.

In a separate incident, a smuggler was caught last Wednesday attempting to bring thousands of shekels worth of songbirds into Israel from Gaza without entry permits, the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories unit (COGAT) said.

A 44-year-old man from Gaza City was apprehended by customs inspectors at the Erez crossing in possession of 30 goldfinches, which he intended to sell in east Yerushalayim.

“During a routine security check of a Palestinian agricultural trader, a resident of Gaza, security guards noticed suspicious signs,” said Erez crossing manager Shlomo Tsaban. “Checking the dealer’s bag revealed a number of birds, tied to and hidden in the side of the bag.”

It marked the fifth time in the past two years that bird smuggling has been thwarted at the crossing.

The entry permit of the smuggler was taken away from him by the authorities and he faced a possible fine for the infraction. Permits are required for animals imports due to the potential for bringing diseases into the country.

“The increase in the amount of bird-smuggling attempts from Gaza and from Yehuda and Shomron is due to the increase in hunting, which has made the bird a rare animal,” explained Uri Madar, the Gaza Liaison and Coordination Administration’s agricultural officer.

After examination, the birds will be released in southern Israel.