ANTISEMITIC vandalism of 65 Commonwealth war graves in Haifa, including 15 Australian gravestones, has been described as “a disgraceful act” and a “hate crime”.
Graffiti, including swastikas, were spray-painted on dozens of gravestones and one was completely destroyed, according to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
PM: "The desecration of the graves of the World War I heroes in Haifa is an abhorrent crime. We owe these soldiers a historical debt for the liberation of the Land of Israel from Ottoman rule. We are doing everything necessary to find those responsible and bring them to justice.
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) October 12, 2019
The Prime Ministers of both Australia and Israel, and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), all condemned the desecration.
“This is disgusting, appalling and nothing other than just hate-filled desecration of our own diggers, our light horsemen and it is terribly upsetting,” Scott Morrison said.
His counterpart Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the desecration as an “abhorrent crime”.
“We owe these soldiers a historical debt for the liberation of the Land of Israel from Ottoman rule,” he said
“We are doing everything necessary to find those responsible and bring them to justice.”
The MFA condemned the act as a “hate crime” and said those responsible “chose to smash and draw swastikas on gravestones of Commonwealth soldiers killed during the two world wars”.
They confirmed the incident is being investigated by the Israel Police.
MFA’s director general, and Israel’s former ambassador to Australia, Yuval Rotem, said he expected to see those responsible brought to justice.
“Shocked and appalled by the despicable act of vandalism at the British cemetery in Haifa,” Rotem said.
“We are forever committed to honour the memory of Commonwealth soldiers who sacrificed their lives fighting in the region.”
Israel’s ambassador to Australia Mark Sofer also condemned the incident, stating it was “a disgraceful criminal act, perpetrated by a warped mind”.
Australia’s ambassador to Israel Chris Cannan also referred to it as “a disgraceful act” and said he trusts the perpetrators will be brought to justice soon.
“War graves are sacred to the memories of those who gave their lives to defend the rights and freedoms we enjoy today.”
“There are 65 headstones with graffiti, plus one headstone that has been broken and since removed,” a British Defence attache who visited the cemetery reported.
“Of the 65 headstones, 15 are Australian, one is Canadian and the remainder are British.”
A number of the graves were of Australian light horsemen who were killed during the Battle of Semakh on September 25 in 1918.
Anti-Defamation Commission chair Dvir Abramovich said this was an “abhorrent and brazen violation of sacred memory”.
“This evil act is a slap in the face to the legacy of those valiant soldiers who sacrificed their lives for a noble cause and I’m certain that every Australian and Israeli would be horrified and shattered by this violation,” Abramovich said.
“We hope that the perpetrators are arrested and dealt with to the fullest extent of the law.”