Antiquities Authority Nabs Smuggler in Big Modiin Raid

By Hamodia Staff

Silver and bronze Roman coins from the mid-third century, were recovered from shipwrecks off the coast of Caesarea, displayed by the Israel Antiquities Authority in Yerushalayim, December 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

YERUSHALAYIM – Agents of the Israel Antiquities Authority have nabbed an illegal dealer in one of the biggest such raids in the country’s history, in which some 1,800 ancient artifacts were seized.

The cache included hundreds of rare coins, some of them dating from the Persian and Hasmonean periods, several minted during the Great Revolt, pottery plates with inscriptions and antique rings.

Included in the haul was a silver “shekel” minted during the Great Revolt in 67 CE. The coin was discovered half-cleaned in the suspect’s study, according to an IAA press release. One side bears the inscription “Yerushalayim Hakodesh” and a bunch of pomegranates. The other side is inscribed with “Shekel Yisrael Year Two” above a trophy.

The IAA said in a statement on Thursday, that its theft prevention unit, armed with a court order, searched the man’s home in Modiin on Sunday with the help of local police. Under questioning, he admitted to illegally trading, smuggling abroad, and purchasing illegally excavated coins from pirated digs in Yehuda and Shomron.

The IAA believes that thousands of coins were shipped abroad in the illicit traffic. Dozens of pirated valuable artifacts were found inside addressed postal envelopes, awaiting shipment at the time of the raid.

“It is heartbreaking to think of the many antiquities sites with heritage values that were destroyed to make money from merchants,” said IAA antiquities commissioner Ilan Haddad. “This is a history which belongs to all of us, which can no longer be restored.”

Regarding punishment, Haddad observed that “judges tend to be lenient. After all, we’re not talking about…murder. But we hope for a punishment that will deter others from participating in this collective theft of our country’s heritage and the heritage of the entire Jewish people,” he said.

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