A 100-foot-deep hole discovered Monday beneath the streets of East Jerusalem has police stumped.
Police announced the discovery of a shaft dug in the yard of an elderly East Jerusalem woman, meters from the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum, just outside the Old City walls.
A neighbor alerted police to the excavations on Nur al-Din Street, just north of the Old City, and officers who arrived at the home discovered a 30-meter-deep hole and ladders leading below ground.
The area surrounding the Old City is rich with archaeological remains dating back thousands of years, but Israeli law prohibits unsanctioned excavations, and all artifacts found must be handed over to the government.
An Israel Police spokesperson said there were no known suspects and that nobody was spotted at the scene of the incident.
The owner told police that several months ago, people arrived at her home and told her they were from the Jerusalem municipality and needed to dig in the yard to fix a water leak.
Since then they arrived every day to carry on the excavations.
Police said they opened an investigation into the matter with the cooperation of the municipality and the Israel Antiquities Authority.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether antiquities had been removed from the site, and what the exact purpose of the hole was. An IAA spokesperson said that no artifacts were found at the scene and that the matter was under the police’s authority.
Police believe the excavation had some connection with the nearby Rockefeller Museum. According to reports it may have constituted an attempt to break into the museum.
The museum, which opened in 1938, features a unique collection of artifacts uncovered in the region over the past 100 years and is part of the Israel Museum.