The IAA, the Customs Authority and the Postal Authority worked together to prevent a precious artifact, a lead weight, from being smuggled out of the country. The weight dates back to the time of Bar Kochba (the second century AD) and is decorated with traditional Jewish symbols, including a palm tree and menorah.
The IAA was able to locate the sender, a former antiquities salesman, who wanted to send the valuable artifact to his colleagues in America. More antiquities were revealed in his apartment. Police say there have been other smuggling attempts, and the investigation has expanded to the US.
This reminds us irresistibly of the recently discovered Leviticus fragments, also said to be from the Bar Kokhba period. Were they looted at the same time and the same place? Will we ever know?
Although the news story says that the inscription (not legible in the photograph) refers to "Shimon bar Kokhba," I would be surprised if the inscription used the form "Kokhba" — the authentic name known from contemporary sources is "Kosiba." And the coins (so far as I know) refer only to "Shimon" or "Shimon, leader of Israel." (Corrections on this point will be gladly received.)
Who are the smuggler's contacts in the US? Anybody know?
UPDATE: Not really news, apparently, already noted in Paleojudaica months ago.