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Vandals destroy dozens of graves in Eritrean Jewish cemetery

Descendants of capital city Asmara's once-thriving Jewish community call for government action

    Dozens of graves in a Jewish cemetery in the eastern African nation of Eritrea have been desecrated, according to pictures sent to the JC.

    The photographs, sent by a reader of Eritrean descent, show headstones toppled and graves bearing Hebrew writing smashed to pieces, in many cases beyond recognition.

    The attack – at a cemetery in the capital Asmara – is understood to have occurred in recent days.

    The London-based reader, who did not want his name published for fear of retributions for his family back at home, said the destruction was an act of vandalism.

    It did not demonstrate the government of Eritrea was antisemitic, he said, but the Eritrean authorities needed to take immediate action to track down the perpetrators.

    Asmara's Jewish community numbered as many 500 people in the 1950s, fueled by Jews fleeing antisemitism in Europe before and during the Second World War.

    Some left after Israel gained independence, but most departed after the 1970s, in the midst of Eritrea's violent struggle for independence from Ethiopia.

    By some reports there is now only one permanent Jewish resident left in the city.

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