Arab bandits digging at the archeological site of Tel Tekoa in Gush Etzion on Thursday were documented by the Shomrim Al Hanetzch (Guardians of Eternity) organization while in action.

A drone documented the bandits digging through the archeological site while in search of findings they can later sell on the black market. One of the bandits is clearly seen with a metal detector while others are seen digging at the archeological site.

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They search for coins, antique vessels, and anything that is valuable and can be sold on the market.

The IDF was alerted to the scene but the bandits fled before they could be arrested.

A week before, a drone spotted the bandits, who fled the scene after spotting the drone.

Tel Tekoa, which has an ancient history dating back to Biblical times and which is mentioned 14 times in the Bible and many times in other historical texts throughout the centuries, was the latest site to be raided during a recent wave of vandalism and theft of archeological sites by Arab bandits.

The shutdown in Judea and Samaria due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has enabled bandits to roam free while causing irreversible damage to the historical record and to world heritage sites in the region.

Grave robbers and antiquities thieves from the Palestinian Authority (PA) have taken advantage of the suspension of oversight and enforcement activity to carry out illegal digs and excavations on an unprecedented scale, Shomrim Al Hanetzach has warned.

The watchdog group dedicated to protecting Israel’s archaeological treasures has called on the government to act and has presented a comprehensive plan to salvage what is left.

Shomrim Al Hanetzach has noted that the phenomenon of antiquity destruction is pervasive and affects all sites that are not under permanent preservation, and a survey of the sites in Judea and Samaria shows that a staggering 95% of the archeological sites have been robbed, vandalized or disturbed.

Guy Derech, Preserving the Eternal’s operations coordinator, told TPS that “the condition of thousands of archeological and ancient sites in Judea and Samaria is shocking. For decades, there has been a wild robbery, destruction and illegal construction.”

“We expect the Israeli government to take responsibility for the assets of human culture in Judea and Samaria, to adopt the national emergency plan we have built and to preserve the heritage for future generations,” he declared.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.
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