Condemnation after 13 Jewish headstones are damaged in Belfast

A group of young people were seen in the cemetery earlier this evening

Condemnation after 13 Jewish headstones are damaged in Belfast

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Police in the North are appealing for information after a number of graves were damaged in West Belfast.

A group of young people damaged the graves at the city cemetery at around 3pm this afternoon.

Some 13 headstones in the Jewish section of the cemetery were targeted.

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 would appeal to anyone who was in the area at the time and witnessed this incident, or to anyone who has any information whatsoever that could assist in our investigation to contact police on the non-emergency number 101 quoting reference 742 of 26th August."

Local DUP MLA William Humphrey said the attack was a "dark day for Belfast". 

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

"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."