11 J'lem Arab teenagers arrested for vandalizing Jewish graves on the Mount of Olives

Eleven Arab teens are under arrest for allegedly vandalizing 20 Jewish graves on the Mount of Olives, police said Sunday. The suspects, residents of east Jerusalem and who range in age from 12-14, were apprehended over the last several days for the vandalism which took place over the last several weeks in the Yemenite section of the graveyard, Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said. The teenagers have confessed to breaking tombstones, drawing graffiti on the graves and stealing the metal holders for memorial candles in the after-school attacks, he said. The suspects, who carried out the attacks out of "nationalistic" motives, will be indicted for the vandalism, the police said, with more arrests in the case expected this week. The cemetery on the Mount of Olives, the most ancient Jewish burial ground in the world, has been the target of repeated attacks of Arab vandalism in the past. In recent years, hundreds of Jewish graves have been vandalized at the cemetery, located adjacent to several Arab neighborhoods, with upkeep and maintenance at the forlorn site heretofore virtually nonexistent due in part to a lack of funding, burial officials have said. A three-year-old Jerusalem municipal plan for the cemetery upkeep was never realized, and the site has continued to languish under the oversight of an interministerial committee. The five-year NIS 100 million city project would see the restoration of tens of thousands of graves and tombstones in the dilapidated cemetery, the installation of a 24-hour closed-circuit security system at the site, as well as the establishment of an information center at the cemetery entrance. Earlier this month, Religious Affairs Minister Rabbi Ya'acov Margi of Shas requested to take control of the cemetery's management, with new plans under way for its upkeep. Among the 150,000 graves on site include those of the prophets Zechariah (who prophesized there,) Haggai, and Malachi, as well as modern-day dignitaries such as Menachem Begin and Shai Agnon. Jewish tradition holds that the resurrection of the dead will begin at the cemetery on the Mount of Olives.