Israel Tries to Better Image After Reports of Petra Vandalism

Israeli officials tried to smooth over the tarnished image of its citizens, after reports that a group of Israeli tourists had defaced a biblical grave site in Jordan.

Israel Television this week broadcast footage of the desecrated Tomb of Aaron, near Petra, Jordan. In the Bible, Aaron is the brother of the prophet Moses.

Hebrew lettering was scrawled on the ancient stone and some antique Hebrew lettering was partially chiseled away.

News reports here quoted an Israeli guide for the Society for the Protection of Nature saying that Israeli groups last week had been barred from entering the site.

Jordanian officials said Monday it had closed the shrine to all visitors, due to access trails made unsafe because of rain.

Tourism Ministry Undersecretary Ghassan Mifleh denied the report that Israelis were banned from the site.

Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Uzi Baram said he had asked advisers for possible steps, including legal action, to rein in callus Israeli travelers.

He said the vandalism “tarnished Israel’s image.”

Baram also discussed the issue with his Jordanian counterpart in Berlin, Germany, where both are attending an international tourism fair.

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