Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Tomb-raiding tradition thriving in West Bank
At least two nights a week, Abu Moussa, the mukhtar of a small Bedouin village you won't find on a map, takes his sleeping bag, tools, and a small group of men and heads into the Judean hills to practice the trade passed down from his father and grandfather before him -- raiding ancient tombs for treasures.

The tradition goes back centuries, though today it is considered illegal by both Israeli and Palestinian police. But as the Palestinian economy crumbles in the face of Israeli security restrictions and crippling international sanctions against the Hamas-led government of the Palestinian Authority, the ancient treasures buried in the biblical landscape have become a major source of income for many residents of the West Bank.