An American tourist has been arrested for allegedly smashing sculptures in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Images shared by Israeli police show the two ancient Roman statues, dating from the 2nd Century, lying broken on the floor of the museum.

Police say the man damaged the statues because he said they were “against the Torah”, Judaism’s most important text.

His lawyer has denied that he had acted out of religious fanaticism, according to the AP news agency.

The museum says staff alerted the police after seeing a man damaging the two statues.

A sculpture of the head of Athena, the daughter of the Greek god Zeus, and a statue of a griffin grasping the wheel of fate of the Roman god Nemesis, have been reported by the Times of Israel as the ones broken.

Both are part of the Israel Museum’s permanent exhibition, and have since been moved to their conservation lab for professional restoration.

The 40-year-old US citizen was arrested at the scene, and is currently being questioned by Israeli police. They have not yet released the suspect’s identity.

Credit: BBC