Bulldozing thieves caught destroying 2,000-year-old Jewish village

Israel Antiquity Authority inspectors caught thieves red-handed as they damaged a biblical archaeology site in search of treasure.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Israel Antiquity Authority inspectors and Border Police volunteers caught two thieves over the weekend causing extensive damage to the biblical town of Dovrat near Afula with a bulldozer.

The suspects, two brothers in their thirties, came from the nearby Arab village of Daburiyya.  They were arrested and then interrogated by the IAA before being released on bail on Monday. The Antiquity Authority confiscated the bulldozer and requested that it be forfeited as a result of their actions.

The pair, who were searching for antiquities to sell, uncovered and smashed subterranean cavities and uprooted masonry stones that were part of the remains of the 2,000-year-old settlement. The debris also included a fragment of basalt millstones, used for grinding flour, and potsherds from the Hellenistic period.

“The illegal and brutal excavations at the archaeological sites are causing terrible destruction of heritage sites, and historical research concerning all of us has been damaged forever,” said Nir Distelfeld of the authority’s Robbery Prevention Unit in the northern region.

He added that Dovrat is a frequent target due to its location. “This ancient site, that is close to the village of Daburiyya from where these robbers came, absorbs one attempt after another of illegal excavations in search of antiques. The desire for money makes people go crazy. … Fortunately they were stopped and greater damage was prevented.”

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Inspectors from the Antiquities Authority kept the area under surveillance for several days after a previous attempted robbery.

The thieves could receive up to five years in prison if convicted.