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American vacationer arrested for smashing historic Roman statues at a museum in Israel

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JERUSALEM — Israeli police have arrested an American vacationer on the Israel Museum in Jerusalem after he hurled artistic endeavors to the ground, defacing two second-century Roman statues.

The vandalism late Thursday raised questions concerning the security of Israel’s priceless collections and stirred concern a few rise in assaults on cultural heritage in Jerusalem.

Police recognized the suspect as a radical 40-year-old Jewish American vacationer and stated preliminary questioning advised he smashed the statues as a result of he thought of them “to be idolatrous and opposite to the Torah.”

The person’s lawyer, Nick Kaufman, denied that he had acted out of non secular fanaticism.

As a substitute, Kaufman stated, the vacationer was affected by a psychological dysfunction that psychiatrists have labeled the Jerusalem syndrome. The situation — a type of disorientation believed to be induced by the spiritual magnetism of the town, which is sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims — is claimed to trigger international pilgrims to imagine they’re figures from the Bible.

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The defendant has been ordered to bear a psychiatric analysis. Officers didn’t launch his identify as a result of a gag order.

With spiritual passions burning and tensions simmering through the Jewish vacation season, spitting and different assaults on Christian worshippers by radical ultra-Orthodox Jews have been on the rise, unnerving vacationers, outraging native Christians and sparking widespread condemnation. The Jewish vacation of Sukkot, the harvest competition, ends Friday at sunset.

The outstanding Israel Museum, with its reveals of archaeology, positive arts, and Jewish artwork and life, described Thursday’s vandalism as a “troubling and strange occasion,” and stated it “condemns all types of violence and hopes such incidents won’t recur.”

Museum photographs confirmed the marble head of the goddess Athena knocked off its pedestal onto the ground and a statue of a pagan deity shattered into fragments. The broken statues had been being restored, museum workers stated. The museum declined to supply the worth of the statues or price of destruction.

The Israeli authorities expressed alarm over the defacement, which officers additionally attributed to Jewish iconoclasm in obedience to early prohibitions towards idolatry.

“It is a surprising case of the destruction of cultural values,” stated Eli Escusido, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority. “We see with concern the truth that cultural values are being destroyed by religiously motivated extremists.”

The vandalism seemed to be the newest in a spate of assaults by Jews towards historic objects in Jerusalem. In February, a Jewish American vacationer broken a statue of Jesus at a Christian pilgrimage web site within the {Old} Metropolis, and in January, Jewish youngsters defaced historic Christian tombstones at a outstanding Jerusalem cemetery.

On Friday morning, about 16 hours after the defacement on the museum, the doorways opened to the general public on the often scheduled time.

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