Vandals deface Israeli world heritage site

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JERUSALEM – Unknown vandals damaged an ancient ruin in the Israeli desert recognized by the United Nations as a World Heritage site, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority said Monday.

One official called the damage to Avdat, an ancient Nabatean city dating back to the third century B.C., "irreversible."

The vandals sprayed black and yellow graffiti, destroyed signs, tipped over ancient stone pillars and destroyed a 1,700-year-old marble altar, spokesman Omri Gal said.

Police are currently investigating the incident, Gal said. The vandals could have entered the site any time during the night since it is open and unfenced, he said.

"We don't know when they came, but they did a lot of damage in a very short time," he said.

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