More than 100 headstones were knocked over and broken at the Mt. Carmel Jewish cemetery in the Wissinoming section of Philadelphia this weekend.
“Everywhere you look you see another headstone knocked over,” said the field reporter for 6abc TV News who went out to the cemetery to verify the destruction.
For the first time since the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, Israel’s Foreign Ministry, issued a statement on the cemetery desecration — the second to occur in as many weeks.
“The Philadelphia Jewish cemetery desecration is shocking and a source of worry,” said Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon in a statement to media. “We have full confidence in U.S. authorities to catch and punish the culprits.”
The desecration was discovered on Sunday when Aaron Mallin of North Jersey came to the cemetery to visit his father’s grave.
Philadelphia police called the destruction, spread across the entire cemetery, an act of “vandalism.”
Mallin believes there’s more to it. He told 6abc, “I’m hoping it was maybe just some drunk kids, but the fact that there’s so many, it leads one to think it could have been targeted. It’s just very heartbreaking,” he said.
Special investigators with the University City Police Department in St. Louis, Missouri are still reviewing security footage to try to determine who was behind widespread damage last week at the historic Chesed Shel Emeth Jewish Cemetery.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence flew out to the site to personally inspect the damage, and then issued a statement of condemnation on the desecration.
“On Monday morning America awoke to discover that nearly 200 tombstones were toppled in a nearby Jewish graveyard,” Pence said in last Wednesday’s statement, adding that “President Trump called this a horrible and painful act. And so it was. That along with other recent threats to Jewish community centers around the country, he declared it all a sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil,” Pence continued. “We condemn this vile act of vandalism and those who perpetrate it in the strongest possible terms.”
More than 150 headstones were knocked over and/or broken, but police have not yet decided whether or not the incident – which occurred on the same day as the fourth wave of bomb threats targeting Jewish Community Centers across the United States – constituted a hate crime.