A band of antiquities robbers was apprehended on Sunday, 2/3/08, by the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robberies.

Following a stakeout that lasted several days, inspectors of the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robberies caught two suspects red-handed at the Mezad Seraya site next to the co-operative Israeli settlement Mei 'Ami, near Nahal ‘Iron, while they were digging deep pits in the ground.

According to the director of the unit, Amir Ganor, “the suspects caused extensive and irreversible damage to the antiquities site. This is a declared antiquities site that dates to the Roman-Byzantine period where there are remains of public buildings, caves and probably an ancient pottery workshop. The site was established opposite a volcanic eruption that took place thousands of years ago. We can only assume that the suspects hoped to find coins, glass or oil lamps at the site, which they thought they could sell”.

The suspects, who are in their 20’s and from the village of ‘Ain Rehan located in the West Bank, were detained by inspectors of the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery and brought for questioning to the Umm el-Fahm police station. The suspects have confessed to the acts attributed to them. They are suspected of having committed offenses involving damage to an antiquities site, excavating an antiquities site without a permit and being in Israel illegally.