British military cemetery vandalized with swastikas in Haifa
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British military cemetery vandalized with swastikas in Haifa

Dozens of tombstones of fallen soldiers defaced in what police are investigating as a hate crime; in separate incident, 35 graves damaged in northern town of Nof Hagalil

Vandalized graves in a British military cemetery in Haifa, October 11, 2019. (Commonwealth War Graves Commission)
Vandalized graves in a British military cemetery in Haifa, October 11, 2019. (Commonwealth War Graves Commission)

Dozens of tombstones were vandalized on Friday, some with swastikas, in a Haifa cemetery for British casualties of World War I and World War II, police said.

The incident at the Haifa War Cemetery was being investigated as a hate crime.

Three of the tombstones had been completely smashed, the Walla news site reported.

Graves had also been vandalized in an adjacent Templer cemetery.

The British military cemetery on the city’s Yafo street was temporarily closed to visitors.

Caretaker Adel Mor, who has maintained the cemetery on behalf of British authorities for 30 years, told Walla that the incident “pains the heart.”

“Why would someone want to cause pain in a place like this? I don’t understand it at all,” Mor said.

305 soldiers who fought in the region in World War I are buried in the cemetery, 86 of whom are unidentified, alongside 36 casualties of World War II, according to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Most of the soldiers died in area hospitals, and some were killed on the battlefield.

A vandalized gravestone in a British military cemetery in Haifa, October 11, 2019. (Commonwealth War Graves Commission)

“CWGC is grateful for all the messages of support and would like to reassure our public that we will never allow such shameful acts to detract from our commemoration of the war dead,” the Commonwealth War Graves Commission said in a statement, adding that staff were on site removing the graffiti.

In a separate incident, around 35 tombstones were damaged on Friday in a cemetery in the northern Israeli town of Nof Hagalil, formerly known as Nazareth Illit, in an apparent act of vandalism.

Most of the damaged tombstones were in a Jewish section of the cemetery, and some in a non-Jewish section.

Investigators had gathered evidence at the scene and launched an investigation, the police said in a statement.

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