A memorial garden for 16 soldiers at a high school in Beersheba was vandalized Saturday night ahead of Israel’s Memorial Day, which begins Sunday evening.
Amit High School director Elisha Peleg reported the incident to police after discovering the damage Sunday morning.
Commander of the Beersheba police station Moshe Ibagi said police were dedicating all available resources to investigating the incident.
The municipality rushed to make repairs to the site before Memorial Day ceremonies scheduled for Monday morning.
Meir Asolin, whose son Doron died in the Gaza Strip six years ago and had a plaque bearing his name at the site, denounced the vandalism.
“The director said that they destroyed everything,” he said, according to Israel daily Yedioth Ahronoth. “It’s shocking that they did such a thing. It can’t be that on a day like this when we are [commemorating] Israel’s fallen soldiers there is vandalism like this.”
Asolin went on to admonish Israeli leaders for not publicly condemning such incidents, noting that the site had also been vandalized a year earlier.
“When something like this happens in a mosque, the president, prime minister and members of Knesset condemn it, but when something like this happens once and then a second time, they don’t do a thing,” he said. “I want to see if they will make a sound. We are talking about soldiers who made it possible for MKs to be where they are.”
A Star of David was found spray-painted on the walls of the mosque in the Arab town last Tuesday, along with a slogan reading “close mosques and not yeshivas,” likely a reference to the recent seizure by the Border Police of a yeshiva — a center of Jewish learning — in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar. Numerous government officials, including President Shimon Peres and Finance Minister Yair Lapid, condemned the suspected price tag attack.
The phrase “price tag” is used by a small group of Jewish extremists to protest what they perceive as the Israeli government’s pro-Palestinian policies. Mosques, churches, dovish Israeli groups and even Israeli military bases have been targeted by vandals in recent years. The acts have been condemned by Israeli leaders across the political spectrum.
In a statement, Peleg expressed solidarity with the families whose relatives were commemorated in the memorial site.
“Tomorrow morning, we will put on a Memorial Day ceremony with the bereaved families, and it is hard to understand where the evil to do such a thing comes from,” he said. “We can only embrace the families and say in a strong voice that we will remember their loved ones and will not allow those that desecrated the memorial garden to affect the memory of our graduates.”
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.