Israeli police announced yesterday that a tunnel that could have been dug for looting purposes has been discovered in the vicinity of the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum, in East Jerusalem.
According to Haaretz, the 30-meter deep tunnel was discovered by a neighbor, who spotted a suspicious excavation taking place in the private yard of an elderly woman in a Palestinian neighborhood just outside the walls of the Old City.
When questioned, the woman explained that a small group of men, who claimed to be municipality sanitation workers, came to her house several months ago and told her that they needed to dig in her garden to fix a water leak.
Authorities suspect that the tunnel was dug with the intention of illegally searching for ancient artifacts buried in the area, widely known to contain a high number of valuable archeological items.
But the proximity to the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum has lead police to believe that the tunnel could have also been devised to break into the institution—which is a branch of the renowned Israel Museum, also in Jerusalem—and steal items from its collection, which contains a trove of antiquities mostly found during British Mandate (1919-1948) in Palestine.
The Israel Antiquities Authorities, however, have dismissed the break-in theory and have launched an investigation alongside police.
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