The Israel Antiquities Authority is in charge of the country’s antiquities and antiquity sites, their excavation, preservation, conservation, study and publication thereof, as well as the country’s antiquity treasures.
In 1985, the Israel Antiquities Authority (then the Department of Antiquities) established a nationwide unit for preventing antiquities theft and supervising commerce in antiquities. Inspectors work round the clock, every day of the year. They have the authority to conduct investigations, searches and arrests. They patrol open areas all around Israel, establish lookouts; wait in ambush, using military methods for catching suspects. The unit possesses the latest electronic equipment, utilizes varied types of information and covers a wide area. The unit has been very successful at catching Antiquities Law violators.
The Israel Antiquities Law permits commerce and export of antiquities, whereas most Mediterranean countries. This has been changed by the Knesset in 2002 and the Law will now limit the legalization of stolen antiquities and reduce the profitability of purchasing antiquities from questionable sources. The earlier legal situation allowed licensed dealers to freely buy from thieves. This situation only encouraged the continuing destruction of antiquities sites and supplied a continuous livelihood to the robbers who destroying the cultural heritage and history of Israel.
According to 2012 antiquities dealers in Israel have to get import and export permits in order to bring in /take out antiquities from the country. This new regulation is forced by a collaboration between the Antiquities Theft Prevention Unit, the local police, the Interpol and the Israeli Customs.