A group of three tomb robbers was recently caught while in the process of looting a 1st-century burial chamber near Kibbutz Metzer, in Emek Hefer, the Israel Antiquities Authority reported on Tuesday.
The suspects, who were arrested, were caught with digging tools and other implements and are believed to be behind a months-long wave of thefts from archaeological sites in the area. The IAA said that with the arrests, it expected the crime wave to subside.
“Unfortunately, the cave and desert fortress was badly damaged,” said Nir Distelfeld, part of the robbery prevention unit of the IAA. “The impact [of thefts] on ancient sites is akin to deleting whole pages of cultural history… for money and dreams of getting rich. Many criminals are unthinkingly destroying the historical and cultural assets of the country.”