Jerusalem police on Thursday detained two Arab children suspected of vandalizing Jewish tombstones in the city's Mount of Olives cemetery, police said.
The two 12-year-old suspects, who allegedly repeatedly stole memorial candles from the tombstones over the last several weeks, told police investigators that they did so in order to sell the copper from which the candles were made, and because they "hate Jews," Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said.
Several tombstones were lightly damaged as a result of the theft.
The two youths were released without charge and transferred to the care of welfare agencies, as they were too young to be punished for such a crime.
Last month, in a long-overdue move, the Jerusalem Municipality announced it was planning to carry out extensive renovation and restoration work at the ancient cemetery. Jewish tradition holds that the resurrection of the dead will begin at the cemetery on the Mount of Olives.
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