Israeli Ministry investigating whether US violated law by giving stolen artifact to PA

Achan answered Yehoshua, “It is true, I have sinned against Hashem, the God of Yisrael. This is what I did:I saw among the spoil a fine Shinar mantle, two hundred shekalim of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekalim, and I coveted them and took them. They are buried in the ground in my tent, with the silver under it.”




(the israel bible)

February 3, 2023

2 min read

Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu’s office announced that they are investigating the legality of the US government transferring to the Palestinian Authority a cosmetic spoon made of ivory dated to  700-800 BCE. 

The spoon was one of 180 artifacts illegally looted and purchased by hedge fund manager Michael Steinhardt. The artifacts worth $70 million were seized in 2021 and Steinhardt surrendered them as part of an agreement to avoid prosecution.

Last month the US State Department handed the spoon over to the PA in what the Office of Palestinian Affairs said was “the first event of such repatriation”. 

Multiple news sources reported that the Heritage Ministry said last week that the legality of the repatriation “is being examined by the archaeology staff officer with the legal counsel, which will examine all aspects of the matter, including the Oslo Accords that the US has signed.”

The Palestinians insist that the region around Hebron during the First Temple period was Palestine.

“Any artifact that we know that it comes out illegally from Palestine, we have the right to have it back,” said Jihad Yassin, director general of excavations and museums in the Palestinian Tourism and Antiquities Ministry. “Each artifact says a story from the history of this land.”

The Palestinian Antiquities Ministry was formed as part of the Oslo Accords in the 1990s but Yassin told the media that the committee has not met in around two decades. Antiquities theft is rampant and the Palestinian Authority is actively engaged in destroying artifacts and archaeological sites in an attempt to refute Israel’s historic claim to the land of Israel.

“We try to do our best to protect these archaeological sites, but we face difficulties,” Yassin said.The spoon was discovered in Khirbet el-Qom, an archaeological site that was excavated in 1967 by Israeli archaeologists. The District Attorney’s office told the media that another artifact discovered at the sit,  a Red Carnelian Sun Fish amulet that dates to circa 600 BCE, is still missing but will be given to the PA if found.

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