Leaders of Israeli and Egyptian diplomacy discussed relations, the new US president, Iran’s assertive policies, or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As a gesture of goodwill, the foreign minister and future Israeli Prime Minister Lapid brought ninety-five stone tablets, statues of ancient Egyptian deities, scrolls of papyrus with hieroglyphs and valuable coins.
“The Israel Antiquities Authority welcomes the initiative of Foreign Minister Lapid. He would be happy to help the Egyptian authorities return the ancient antiquities that were stolen from Egypt to the Egyptian people,” said Eli Esquido, director of the Israel Antiquities Office.
Artifacts disappeared during the violent revolution that toppled autocrat Hossein Mubarak in January 2011. The disintegration of security forces led to the looting of Egyptian museums and continued excavations.
The Israeli police have confiscated hundreds of artifacts over the past decade. The smugglers brought some of them to Israel on their way to the West. Other relics went to local collectors. The police worked with Interpol and the Egyptian security forces.
Billions circulate in the scam shop
Tens of thousands of ancient Egyptian antiquities of immeasurable value have disappeared into the international networks of black and semi-legal trade. Its annual sales are estimated at ten billion dollars. “This business is international. It reaches Europe, Germany, England, France and New York. It’s a branch store,” explains Shader Bedon, an antiquities expert from Jerusalem.
“If you look on eBay, you’ll find ancient ships from the early Bronze Age, for example. Someone stole them in recent months and sold them for three to four hundred dollars. And we’re talking about pottery,” said Matthew J. Adams, director of the Albright Institute of Archeology in Jerusalem. .
After careful examination, the returned antiquities will pass to large-scale Egyptian collections. Some will appear at the Grand Egyptian Museum, which will open in a year or so after several delays.
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