In a conversation with The Times of Israel, Eitan Klein, deputy director of the IAA’s Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Looting, said the case is significant in that it highlights the fraudulent use of Israeli law in the dealing of artifacts looted across the Middle East.Background here and follow the links.
As Israel is the only country in the region that legally allows antiquities commerce, dealers of looted antiquities and smugglers from neighboring countries make use of the Jewish state as a clearance point for resale in order to give their wares a veneer of legitimacy.
“In all other countries — Jordan, Lebanon, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iraq — it is illegal to deal antiquities. The problem is that the dealers that we gave permission to deal antiquities are using our law to deal in looted artifacts,” said Klein.
The position of the IAA is that antiquities sales should be forbidden in Israel, said Klein, and it is in exploratory talks with the Justice Ministry to investigate legal options after twice failing in the Knesset to amend the existing law.
Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.