Desecrated tombstones of a Jewish cemetery (Illustrative).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
BUCHAREST - Three youths overturned and broke a number of headstones in a Jewish cemetery in Bucharest, police said on Tuesday, in an incident that drew condemnation from Romania's small Jewish community.
The police said in a statement to state news agency Agerpres they had identified the youths, who were aged from 13 to 16, but had made no arrests pending a criminal investigation.
The Federation of the Jewish Communities in Romania said 10 tombstones had been damaged in the incident, which occurred on the night of April 23/24, adding that "this act of grave vandalism and antisemitism saddened and revolted the whole Jewish community in Romania".
The president of the foundation, Aurel Vainer, said the timing of the incident was no coincidence as Israel marked Holocaust Remembrance Day this year from sunset on April 23 to sunset on April 24.
Romania was an ally of Nazi Germany during the Second World War until it changed sides in August 1944. An international commission in a 2004 report put the total number of Romanian and Ukrainian Jews who perished in territories under Romanian administration at 280,000 to 380,000.
The country used to have a pre-war Jewish population of about 800,000 but now fewer than 11,000 Jews live in Romania, a European Union member state with a total population of around 20 million people.
After the collapse of communist rule in 1989, Romania passed laws to return property to the original owners but the process has been hampered by red tape.