Israeli police say they have arrested two men for vandalizing an ancient desert ruin recognized by the United Nations as a World Heritage site.

The over 2,000-year-old ruins of the Nabatean city of Avdat in southern Israel were defaced earlier this week. Israel's Nature and Parks Authority estimates the damage at around $2.4 million.

Police spokeswoman Salit Philipson says the two arrested are local Bedouins. She says police are investigating whether the vandalism was retaliation for the demolition by government authorities of a nearby Bedouin home on Sunday.

UNESCO, the U.N. body for cultural preservation, named Avdat a World Heritage site in 2005. The city was used for centuries by merchants linking Arabian trade routes with Mediterranean ports.