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21 Feb, 2017 10:56

Jewish headstones destroyed at mass vandalization of St Louis cemetery

Jewish headstones destroyed at mass vandalization of St Louis cemetery

More than 100 headstones were vandalized at a Jewish cemetery in St Louis in an incident Missouri’s governor described as “despicable”. The desecration comes amid reports of bomb threats against several Jewish community centers this week.

Photographs taken at St Louis Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery show collapsed and broken headstones. A reporter from WCOV who visited the cemetery counted more than 100 which had been toppled.

The damage was concentrated in an area holding the cemetery’s oldest graves.

"These are Holocaust survivors that are in here, they shouldn't have to endure anymore trauma, let them be settled," Robin Rickerman, who has family buried in the cemetery, told WCOV.

Police said they are reviewing surveillance footage and have not ruled out investigating the incident as a hate crime.

Governor of Missouri Eric Greitens said the act of desecration will serve only to unite those it has targeted. “From their pitiful act of ugliness, we can emerge even more powerful in our faith,” he said on Facebook, where he described the incident as “despicable.”

St Louis mayor Francis Slay also condemned the incident, describing it as “a disgrace to our region” on Twitter.

The incident comes amidst a spike in reported of anti-Semitic incidents in the US. On Monday six states reported bomb threats against Jewish community centers (JCC). Paul Goldenberg, director of the Secure Community Network, said the caller involved in each of the incidents appears to be the same person.

READ MORE: At least 7 Jewish centers receive bomb threats, could be 'same serial caller'

More than 50 US Jewish centers have received bomb threats since the beginning of the year. No bombs have been discovered at any of the premises.