Tuesday May 22, 2018

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
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  • 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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Israel Warns Iran, Hints Towards a War in Middle East

In an Israel Radio interview, former general Yisrael Zeev said Netanyahu appears to be preparing the nation for war.

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He said Israel may have to launch a preemptive strike against Iranian assets in Syria, prompting Iran and its ally Hezbollah in Lebanon to fire missiles into Israel.
Benjamin Netanyahu, PM of Israel, wikimedia commons

A tough new warning from Israel to Iran is raising fears of war in the Middle East.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel is prepared to confront Iranian “aggression” sooner rather than later.

Speaking at the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu accused Iran of transferring advanced weapons to neighboring Syria, including missiles and anti-aircraft batteries it intends to use against Israel.

“We do not want an escalation,” Netanyahu said, “but we are prepared for any scenario.”

The tough rhetoric follows a presentation on national TV a week ago, in which Netanyahu exposed what he said were tens thousands of documents proving that Iran had a secret nuclear weapons program which could be quickly revived at any time.

A tough new warning from Israel to Iran is raising fears of war in the Middle East.
Israel Flag, Pixabay

The files, which were seized in Tehran by Israeli intelligence, could reinforce threats by U.S. President Donald Trump to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal by May 12. The three European countries that signed the agreement, Britain, France and Germany, have tried to persuade Trump not to withdraw.

In an Israel Radio interview, former general Yisrael Zeev said Netanyahu appears to be preparing the nation for war.

He said Israel may have to launch a preemptive strike against Iranian assets in Syria, prompting Iran and its ally Hezbollah in Lebanon to fire missiles into Israel.

Also Read: Haspel, Trump’s Choice For CIA Director, Withdraws Her Name

Netanyahu will visit Moscow on Wednesday to discuss the situation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the main power broker in Syria. Putin will no doubt urge Netanyahu to act with restraint.

But Netanyahu told the Cabinet that Israel must learn from history. He said nations that were not prepared to take timely action against aggression paid a much higher price later on. (VOA)