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

Late last week, 10 Jewish gravestones were vandalized or toppled at City Cemetery in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

The gravestones are located in a walled section of the cemetery. The area is frequently locked for security.

Some of the vandalized graves date back to the 1870s.

The vandalism, which occurred last Thursday, is being investigated as a hate crime, reported The Jewish Chronicle.

Police Services of Northern Ireland Inspector Roisin Brown told the Belfast Telegraph she was "appalled at these criminal acts,” adding “that it would be a blow to the Jewish community.

"City Cemetery, like any graveyard, is a place where members of the community come to pay their respects. The damage to these graves shows a total lack of respect for others and will have a significant impact on individuals and families within the Jewish Community," she said.

Belfast Councillor Steve Corr, in an interview with Belfast Live, noted that the damage was the latest in a string of vandalism attacks at the cemetery.

“This appears to be a deliberate targeting and will be treated and recorded as a hate crime. CCTV is being looked at,” he said.

North Belfast MLA William Humphrey told Belfast Live that he was “disgusted and appalled to hear that 10 Jewish headstones have been damaged.”

He added: “This is a very sad day for Belfast. I have nothing but the highest regard for the Belfast Jewish community, which continues to have my full support. Those behind this appalling antisemitic attack are evil. A graveyard is a sacred place and should be respected as such. Those responsible are guilty of a most heinous hate crime."

In August 2016, eight youths destroyed and vandalized 17 Jewish graves at the cemetery in what was described as an organized attack.