Monday April 22, 2019

A Norwegian Diplomat vehicle held for Artifacts Smuggling in Israel

IAA confirmed the amount of antiquities as 10 kilograms, releasing a picture that “showed a mound of small coins and around a dozen small figurines.”

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Antiquities found in a Norwegian diplomatic vehicle at the Allenby border crossing, May 31, 2016. (Israel Tax Authority). Image source: Timesof Israel.com
  • Antiquities smuggling is a recurrent problem in Israel
  • Most of the coins recovered were from the Hellenistic and Roman eras
  • The valuables were seized while a senior Norwegian diplomat was in the car

A Norwegian diplomat vehicle carrying a haul of antiquities consisting of coins, sculptures, statuettes, and other artifacts concealed in cardboard boxes was arrested at Allenby Bridge on Monday, June 6.

The valuables were seized while a senior Norwegian diplomat was in the car, travelling between Jerusalem and Jordan. “Following Norway’s permission to the Israeli MFA for the custom authorities to search the vehicle, custom officials stated to have found artifacts in the car. A locally employed driver was detained by Israeli authorities,” reported Jerusalem Post.

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The officials along with the driver were arrested at the scene but were later granted conditional release by the Jerusalem Magistrate Court after posting bail. The Israeli Tax Authority named the driver as Issa Nagam, a resident of Beit Hanina in east Jerusalem.

Israeli Tax Authority officials handed the artifacts over to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) for furthering details on the items. Initially, it was reported that the articles found were of “great value”, with no further information on the origin of the precious figurines.

The Allenby Bridge border crossing seen from the Jordanian side. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
The Allenby Bridge border crossing seen from the Jordanian side. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Antiquities smuggling is in fact a recurrent problem in Israel, where precious items are sold illegally to collectors both inside and outside the region. They are often used to launder money in villages near West Bank and Bar Kochba-era tunnels.

IAA later confirmed the amount of antiquities as 10 kilograms, releasing a picture that “showed a mound of small coins and around a dozen small figurines.”

“Most of the coins were from the Hellenistic and Roman eras. The bulk was minted by Judea’s Hasmonean Kings and by King Herod,” said an IAA spokesperson.

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The Norwegian Embassy in Tel Aviv told the Times of Israel, “Norway takes this incident very seriously.” An internal probe has been launched by the Foreign Embassy to investigate how a diplomat vehicle was used for an illegal activity.

“We are aware that diplomatic vehicles from other missions have been subject to similar incidents. In addition to the handling by Israeli authorities, we have initiated an internal process,” said the Norwegian Embassy.

-by Maariyah Siddiquee, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @MaariyahSid

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Tesla CEO Elon musk, board
Tesla CEO Elon Musk. (VOA)

Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, Tesla and Neuralink, is in negotiations with Israels government to build tunnels in the country, said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“I met a man that they call Elon Musk-have you heard of him? A real genius,” the New York-based The Algemeiner journal quoted Netanyahu as saying at a campaign event last week when asked about Israel’s transportation infrastructure.

“Right now, we’re in conversation with him to see if we can tunnel the State of Israel.”

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX. Wikimedia

Netanyahu said he and Musk ate breakfast at the Prime Minister’s residence, where the billionaire entrepreneur mentioned tunneling, The Algemeiner reported on Sunday.

According to the state comptroller, ineffective public transportation could cost the Israeli economy $6.9 billion annually by 2030, if dire changes are not implemented.

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The billionaire entrepreneur visited Israel in March 2018 and has been in negotiations with Israel’s government to build tunnels.

If the plans work out as intended, Musk’s tunneling firm — Boring Co. — could help in the development of Israel’s tangled transportation network, the report said. (IANS)