Israel Returns Looted Artifacts to Egypt

Israel Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid turned over almost 100 Egyptian relics that were illegally smuggled into the country to his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry.

Director of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), Eli Eskozido, who is accompanying Lapid, handed over the 95 artifacts, which included two stone tablets with hieroglyphic writing, a piece of a sarcophagus with hieroglyphics, papyrus documents, and dozens of small idols of Egyptian gods.

The Times of Israel reported that among the returned items were four relics that were nabbed by Israeli customs agents in 2013 in the Ben Gurion Airport. An Israeli antiquities dealer purchased these relics from Oxford, England, and wanted to smuggle them into the country.

Israel alerted Egyptian authorities through Interpol, and after a legal battle, the relics were handed over to Israel in 2015. The other Egyptian artifacts were found in a Jerusalem antiquities dealership in August 2013.

Another 91 relics were seized from the shop after a joint investigation carried out by the IAA, Foreign Ministry officials, and officials from the Egypt embassy, according to the Times.

During the ensuing legal process, Egypt sent documentation of the artifacts and expert opinion from Yousef Hamed Khalifa, the director of Cairo and Giza for the Egyptian Tourism and Antiquities Ministry.

“The Antiquities Authority praises Foreign Minister Lapid’s initiative and is happy it was able to help the Egyptian authorities return to the Egyptian people Egyptian cultural artifacts that were stolen from Egypt,” Eskozido said in a statement.

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