Nor­we­gian Em­bassy driver caught smug­gling an­tiq­ui­ties

Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By BEN HARTMAN

A driver em­ployed by the Nor­we­gian Em­bassy in Is­rael was ar­rested at Al­lenby Bridge last week when his car was found to be car­ry­ing a haul of an­tiq­ui­ties. A se­nior Nor­we­gian diplo­mat was in the ve­hi­cle at the time, the Is­rael Tax Author­ity said Mon­day.

Ac­cord­ing to the author­ity, last Tues­day the car bear­ing diplo­matic plates pulled up at the Al­lenby bor­der cross­ing and cus­toms of­fi­cials check­ing the car found 10 kilo­grams of an­cient coins and fig­urines stashed in­side card­board boxes.

The driver was named by the Tax Author­ity as Issa Nagam, a res­i­dent of Beit Han­ina in east Jerusalem. He was ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of smug­gling an­tiq­ui­ties and re­leased on bond later in the day by a judge at the Jerusalem Mag­is­trate’s Court.

No de­tails about the ori­gin of the an­tiq­ui­ties or their value was given by the Tax Author­ity, but a photo it re­leased showed a mound of small coins and around a dozen small fig­urines.

An of­fi­cial at the Nor­we­gian Em­bassy di­rected press in­quiries to the For­eign Min­istry of­fice in Oslo.

An­tiq­ui­ties theft is a rather large in­dus­try in Is­rael, where an­tiq­ui­ties thieves – mainly from Pales­tinian vil­lages in the West Bank but not only – hunt for ar­ti­facts that can be sold il­le­gally to col­lec­tors both in­side and out­side of Is­rael. Par­tic­u­larly pop­u­lar are Bar Kochba-era tun­nels and graves, which of­ten turn up highly valu­able coins. An­tiq­ui­ties spir­ited out of the coun­try can also be used as a means of laun­der­ing money.

(Cus­toms Author­ity)

SOME OF THE AN­TIQ­UI­TIES seized by Cus­toms Author­ity of­fi­cers at the Al­lenby Bridge last week from the driver of the Nor­we­gian Em­bassy.

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