Anti-Semitism in Europe (archive)
Anti-Semitism in Europe (archive) Photo by TPS

Four headstones at a disused Jewish cemetery in the United Kingdom were destroyed in what police are investigating as a possible anti-Semitic attack, JTA reported on Tuesday.

The perpetrators knocked down the headstones at the cemetery of the Chatham Memorial Synagogue in Rochester, a town located 30 miles east of London, sometime between September 27 and October 4, police told Kent Online, though news of the vandalism was only first published in the media on Tuesday.

“It’s difficult to describe the sense of horror at the disrespect and needless violence,” Dalia Halpern-Matthews, the chair of trustees of the nonprofit organization that runs the Chatham Memorial Synagogue, told the Daily Mail.

The unknown vandals destroyed the cemetery’s gate.

“The gate they ripped off was bolted to the wall. It was already open. It was damage for damage’s sake,” Halpern-Matthews said.

The last burial at the cemetery took place in 1982. Some graves there are more than 300 years old. The Jewish community of Rochester today has fewer than 50 members.

In August, the Community Security Trust (CST) released a report which found that a record number of nearly 900 anti-Semitic incidents have been recorded in the United Kingdom for the first six months of 2019.

The report found that the 892 incidents reported in the first half of 2019 is the highest number recorded in that six-month period and is a 10 percent increase from the 810 incidents recorded during the same period in 2018.

Almost two thirds of the 892 antisemitic incidents were recorded in Greater London and Greater Manchester, the two largest Jewish communities in the UK.

CST has recorded anti-Semitic incidents since 1984. In February, it released its 2018 report which found that the number of anti-Semitic incidents recorded in the United Kingdom rose to 1,652 in 2018, marking a new record for the third straight year.

In the first half of 2017, the Jewish community of the United Kingdom recorded 767 anti-Semitic attacks. CST that year decided to publish a six-month report, in addition to its annual report, because of the unusual volume of incidents.

In 2016, CST found that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Britain rose by more than a third compared to 2015.