Jewish graves damaged by mob in Belfast cemetery

A member of the public inspects his fathers grave after hearing of attack.' Photograph by Stephen  Hamilton
A member of the public inspects his fathers grave after hearing of attack.' Photograph by Stephen Hamilton

Police are treating a mob attack on Jewish grave stones in west Belfast as a “particularly sickening” hate crime.

The PSNI said the graves were damaged by a group of young people in the City Cemetery yesterday afternoon.

Officers attended the area shortly after 3pm and discovered that 13 headstones in the Jewish section of the cemetery had been damaged.

Local policing commander Chief Inspector Norman Haslett said: “This is a particularly sickening incident, which we are treating as a hate crime. To disturb the sanctity of a cemetery in this way is completely unacceptable and I can assure the public that we will conduct a robust investigation in a bid to bring those responsible before the courts.

“I have already liaised with local representatives and I will continue to do so regarding this and other issues relating to anti-social behaviour in the vicinity of the cemetery.”

North Belfast DUP MLA William Humphrey said eight youths were backed by a much larger crowd.

“I’m disgusted and appalled to hear that Jewish headstones have been damaged at the City Cemetery,” he said.

“I understand that council staff reported that eight youths, supported by a larger crowd, caused the damage, using hammers and blocks.

“This is a very sad day for Belfast. I have nothing but the highest regard for the Belfast Jewish community. A community which historically has, and indeed continues to make a most valuable contribution to the lifeblood of this city.

“Those behind this 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.

“Anyone with any information must pass it on to the police and help have those responsible for this evil anti-Semitism caught and brought to justice.

“I have been in contact with the rabbi and members of our Jewish community, to express my disgust and revulsion at this evil.”

He is proud to stand with Belfast’s growing Jewish community, he said.