Bedouin arrested in Negev vandalism


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Two Bedouin men were arrested for allegedly vandalizing an archeological site in the Negev.

The men, aged 41 and 57, were arrested Monday night and are set to be arraigned Tuesday. 

Artifacts at the Avdat National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, were knocked down, smashed and spray-painted early Monday morning. A 1,700-year-old altar was  destroyed, thousand-year-old arches were knocked down and ancient pillars were toppled, according to reports.

A high-ranking preservation official called the vandalism "unparalleled," according to Ha’aretz.

The men, who deny that they were involved in the vandalism, may have attacked the site out of anger over the razing of a relative’s home, the Israeli daily said. Police in their investigation had said they would look into whether the incident was related to the demolition of 23 illegal Bedouin structures in the South, according to reports.

Avdat is one of four Nabatean cities in Israel and dates back to the third century BCE.

"We’re talking real damage, real vandalism, irreversible damage," Osnat Eitan, an Israel Nature and Parks Authority official, told The Associated Press.

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