Jewish Cemetery in Eritrea Vandalized for First Time, Dozens of Graves Destroyed

Photos received by Haaretz reveal damage to old cemetery in Eritrean capital of Asmara, once home to a small Jewish community

Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet

A Jewish cemetery in the Eritrean capital of Asmara was vandalized in recent days. In photos received by Haaretz, headstones and graves are toppled and broken.

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Asmara was once home to a small Jewish community that moved to the country in the Horn of Africa at the beginning of the previous century. For years, the local Jewish community lived unmolested in the city.

Along with the cemetery, the Asmara site is also home to a now defunct synagogue, as there is no longer an active Jewish community in the city.

"The cemetery suffered vandalism and a large number of graves were defaced," Danny Goldschmidt, from Tel Aviv's Aden Jewish Heritage Museum, told Haaretz.

Jewish cemetery in Eritrea vandalized, dozens of graves destroysCredit: Courtesy
Jewish cemetery in Eritrea vandalized, dozens of graves destroysCredit: Courtesy
Jewish cemetery in Eritrea vandalized, dozens of graves destroys Credit: Courtesy

"The police have yet to make an arrest," he added, noting that to the best of his knowledge there is no history of anti-Semitism in the city and no previous incident targeting the community has been reported.

"Is this anti-Semitism or the act of a crazy individual? No one knows," he said.

Last week, a Jewish school on the Tunisian island of Djerba, home to an ancient Jewish community, was attacked as violent anti-government protests raged elsewhere in the North African country. On Monday, it was reported that five people were arrested, though the motive for the attack remains unclear.

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