A gang of thieves were caught in the act of looting historical relics from ‘Cave of Skulls’, in Israel.
In all, a total of six Palestinian thieves were apprehended, while in the act of attempting to loot a historical Dead Sea cave, in the Judean Desert. The ring of criminals were first observed perpetrating the act by members of the Arand Rescue unit, while engaging in their early morning training routine in the desert, near the historic ‘Cave of Skulls’.
The Arand Rescue unit immediately reported the suspicious activity to the Israel Antiquities Authority, who set up an ambush like operation to apprehend the culprits as they exited the entrance to the illegal dig site.
The six Palestinian men were then arrested for their involvement on the illicit excavation, that had originally occurred last week. The news of their indictment was not publicly released until, Sunday, December 7th. The gang was charged with a long list of offences that included, illegally entering Israel territory without a permit card and suspicion of antiquities theft.
The men involved in the ancient caves pillage, have been noted to have caused a tremendous amount of damage while they unlawfully excavated the site. It is currently not known what the gang had destroyed in their illegal trespass of the historical cave.
At the time of their apprehension, the group was reported to have a large amount of sophisticated equipment in their possession, including ropes, lighting rigs and high-tech metal detectors; as well as the illegally obtained relics from the site. In regard to the trespass of the site, Israeli officials noted that the culprits had demonstrated a high level of expertise in rock climbing as well as a thorough knowledge of using ropes and repelling to gear, to be able to scale down the sheer face of the natural occurring stone walls that surround the mouth of the cave.
‘Skull Cave’, as well as the numerous caves that reside in the surrounding area, had been used by ancient people as far back as at least 5,000-years-ago. The collections of caverns in the Judean desert have been the home of many long forgotten residents as well as many signficant historical discoveries, one of the most important being the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Israeli officials suspect the reason for the gangs activity was to locate valuable ancient documents, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls. The criminals did have numerous relics in their possession, one being a Roman-era comb used to remove body lice, but as of yet, no scroll or scroll fragments have been reported to be found in the perpetrators possessions.