Vandals drew dozens of swastikas on an elementary school playground in New York City overnight Thursday.
The anti-Semitic graffiti, which included the words “Heil Hitler,” was found early Friday morning in the Rego Park neighborhood in the borough of Queens.
School staff removed the drawings and called the police, the Ynet news site reported.
The school was closed for vacation but the playground was open to the public.
“This is terrible anti-Semitism. This is a neighborhood with a lot of Jews who are proud of their Judaism and don’t hide it. It’s terrible that something like this is happening in New York,” Idan Shefi, an Israeli who lives near the school, told Ynet.
The incident comes amid a surge in hate crimes in New York City, especially attacks against Jews. The 55 hate crimes in the city so far this year represent a 72 percent increase over the same period last year, with close to two-thirds of the attacks this year targeting Jews, the New York Times reported on Monday.
Swastikas and Nazi symbols, as well as the term “Heil Hitler” (sic) were discovered drawn all over an elementary school playground in Queens today. @CMKoslowitz & @tobystavisky were at the scene, and it has since been cleaned. @NYPDHateCrimes is investigating this incident. pic.twitter.com/4Mrh63bSbN
— NYC Jewish Caucus (@NYCJewishCaucus) February 22, 2019
In 2018, New York saw more hate crimes against Jews than all other targeted groups combined, with 183 anti-Semitic incidents, according to police figures.