American tourist, 40, is arrested in Israel for vandalizing ancient Roman statues he deemed ‘blasphemous’ and ‘contrary to the Torah’ during vandalism at a Jerusalem museum
- A 40-year-old American tourist was arrested for deliberately damaging statues
An American tourist has been arrested in Israel for destroying ancient Roman statues he deemed “blasphemous” and “contrary to the Torah” in a devastating disaster at a Jerusalem museum.
The 40-year-old tourist was arrested yesterday by Israeli police for deliberately damaging ancient Roman statues on display at the Israel Museum.
The museum said the only two artifacts destroyed were “ancient Roman statues from the 2nd century AD” housed in the archeology wing.
Images released by authorities showed the sculptures removed from their pedestals and lying on the ground, one with a severed head and the other broken into several pieces.
Security forces detained the suspect at the museum before police arrived after he was seen damaging the statues, which police say have “sentimental” value.
Images released by authorities showed the sculptures removed from their pedestals and lying on the ground, one with a severed head
One of the statues was broken into several pieces at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem
Police shared images of the broken sculptures lying on the floor of the museum.
The museum provided a photo of a stick they said was held by the suspect in the building and may have been used in the incident, The Times of Israel reported.
The suspect was questioned by police, who plan to ask the judge to deny bail.
The initial assessment is that the man damaged the statues because he believes they are ‘against the Torah’, according to a police statement.
In Judaism, in the broadest sense of the word, Torah is the essence of divine revelation to Israel, the Jewish people – God’s revealed teaching or guidance for humanity.
The statues were transferred to the museum’s conservation laboratory for professional restoration, the police statement said.
Eli Escusido, head of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said: ‘One statue is a marble depiction of the goddess Athena, which was found during excavations in Beit She’an in the 1960s. The second was of the mythological creature Griffin, which was the symbol of divinity in the Roman pagan era and was found in the Negev.”
‘This is a shocking case of destruction of cultural heritage. “We view with great concern the fact that religious extremists are taking such actions,” he said.
The museum said only that the two destroyed artifacts were “ancient Roman statues from the 2nd century AD” housed in the archeology wing.
The museum called the attack “concerning” and “serious,” but noted it would not impact operations or opening hours.
“This is an unusual incident,” the museum said in a statement.
“We condemn all forms of violence and hope that such events will not occur again.”
Police say the investigation is ongoing. The suspect was expected to be brought before the Jerusalem court on Thursday to extend his arrest.
The Israel Museum is the largest cultural institution in the State of Israel and is among the leading art and archeology museums in the world.
It boasts the most extensive collections of Biblical and Holy Land archeology in the world.
Sukkot, a Jewish fall festival of double thanksgiving that begins in September or October, is a popular time for tourists to travel to Israel, especially North Americans.
In February, an American tourist was arrested for vandalizing a statue in the Church of the Flagellation in Jerusalem’s Old City.
The suspect, in his forties, damaged a statue of Jesus in the Church of the Condemnation on the historic Via Dolorosa, a processional route believed to have been the route Jesus took to his crucifixion.