Treasure trove of stolen Israeli artifacts unearthed in police raid

Weapons raid uncovers coins, oil lamps dating back thousands of years.

By World Israel News Staff

Police raiding the home of a man in northern Israel suspected of weapons offenses made a surprising discovery – a large stash of antiquities, including coins dating back thousands of years.

As part of an effort by Public Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to crack down on organized crime and weapons offenses in the Arab community, the Border Police and Northern District police conducted a joint operation to search for illegal weapons.

During a search of the home of a 48-year-old man in the Arab town of I’billin, police found metal detectors, ancient coins believed to date back several thousand years, and oil lamps that are likely hundreds of years old.

The man was detained for questioning at the Shfar’am police station and the items were confiscated by the authorities.

The artifacts have been transferred to Israel’s Antiquities Authority for safekeeping and restoration.

“In quite a few cases, we find criminals who steal antiquities are also known to us [for other criminal offenses],” said Inspector Nidal Abdel-Halim, a senior chief intelligence and investigation officer at the Shfar’am police station, in a media statement.

“Behind every ancient object, like the ones that were seized, there is a historical story thousands of years old. [These artifacts] deserve to be in the right hands, accessible to the whole public, and not be the private property of one criminal or another.”

In May 2022, the Israeli Antiquities Authority busted a major dealer who illegally sold artifacts looted from numerous archaeological sites throughout the country.

“It’s heartbreaking to think about the many antiquity sites that have been destroyed for the sake of greed of traders of heritage values,” Ilan Hadad, the authority’s supervisor of antiquities trade, said at the time.

“It’s the history of all of us, [which] will no longer be possible to recover.”