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Palestinian police seize machines that detect ruins

Illegal trade in artefacts and antiques growing in Palestine

Gulf News

Ramallah: Palestinian police have seized what have been labelled sophisticated machines used to detect concealed ruins and antiques.

Tens of valuable artefacts were also uncovered in the operation in the village of Kherbat Al Tira, in Ramallah, West Bank. According to a police statement, they have arrested a suspect originally from the city of Hebron while he was using those machines to detect the existence of antiques and artefacts in a small cave in the village.

The statement said that the suspect was caught red-handed and has been referred to the Palestinian Public Prosecution. A senior police officer told Gulf News that the existence of such sophisticated machines was a significant issue for the Palestinian Police and the Palestinian Police of Antiques and Ruins.

The officer stressed that despite the massive efforts, police are exerting to detect illegal excavations, the business of digging for and trading in artefacts is flourishing in the Palestinian territories with the help of traders from the 1948 areas.

The officer said that the inability of the Palestinian security apparatus to control entry and exit points with Israel and the total Israeli control over the Zone C makes their mission difficult.

“We have imposed tough legal measures on Palestinians who desire to demolish their properties and bring them to the offices of the Palestinian Antiques and Ruins Departments to sign official pledges vowing to report any artefacts, tunnels and caves uncovered on their sites,” said the officer.

He said the Palestinian Antiques and Ruins Police have already deployed contacts to report any suspicion of possible diggings in areas of Zone C and that police forces have successfully foiled repeated attempts to dig caves.

He said the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) is proposing a measure to officially excavate potential sites to uncover legally the antiques and artefacts.

He said the Israeli authorities would be approached for necessary permission as it would be implemented in Zone C areas, which Israeli controls administratively and in security terms. He said that illegal antique traders have been resorting to new tactics and methods to ensure their items are hidden from Palestinian police and reach Israel safely.