Slovakia: Vandalism at Jewish cemetery caused by children

Police in Slovakia say five boys aged 9 to 12 are responsible for vandalism of Jewish cemetery in Slovakia in mid-December.

Ben Ariel ,

Headstone at Jewish cemetery (illustrative)
Headstone at Jewish cemetery (illustrative)

Children caused the vandalism of a Jewish cemetery in Slovakia, in which at least 20 headstones were damaged, not extremists as was originally suspected, JTA reported on Tuesday.

The gravestones were pushed over, causing some to crack, in mid-December in the northern town of Rajec.

Police in the Zilina Region announced on Friday that the vandals were five boys, aged 9 to 12, the Slovak Spectator reported.

“The motive of the minors’ act was no racial, ethnic or religious intolerance, hatred towards another group of people, or the promotion of an ideology aimed at suppressing fundamental rights and freedoms,” Jana Balogová, a spokesperson for the Žilina Region Police Department, was quoted as having said.

The vandalism caused about $5,500 in damages. Due to the ages of the perpetrators, criminal prosecution has been halted.

The incident was the second time in one week that a Jewish cemetery was vandalized in Slovakia. In the first incident, 60 gravestones were knocked down and set on fire in the Jewish cemetery of Namestovo, a town in northern Slovakia near the Polish border.

There have been no arrests in that incident.

Anti-Semitic incidents of this nature are extremely rare in Slovakia, which has only about 5,000 Jews today.

Also in December, 107 gravestones were vandalized in a cemetery in Westhoffen, west of Strasbourg in France.

A month earlier, gravestones in the Jewish section of a churchyard in Randers, northwestern Denmark, were vandalized with green paint and knocked over.

In October, four headstones at a disused Jewish cemetery in the United Kingdom were destroyed.