Police Bust Illegal Antiquities Traders

Two Israelis are likely to stand trial for illegally trading in antiquities after Antiquities Authority investigators found hundreds of artifacts from the Roman and Byzantine periods in their possession on Thursday.

The investigation started with an intelligence tip indicating that an Ashdod resident was smuggling antiquities out of the country and selling them abroad.

An undercover probe netted evidence against both this suspect and others.

Based on this evidence, investigators raided the residences of both the Ashdod resident and another suspect, who lives in Holon, on Thursday.

They found hundreds of antiquities, including ancient weapons, rings and seals at both locations.

The search also uncovered evidence that the Ashdod resident had offered antique weaponry for sale via public auction sites on the Internet.

To attract buyers, he claimed that the weapons came from Masada.

Once a sale was clinched, he would send the artifacts overseas by mail.

According to the Antiquities Authority, both men have admitted their guilt. The evidence has been passed on to the prosecution so that indictments can be prepared.

If convicted, the two men could be sentenced to up to three years in jail and face a hefty fine.