Sep. 14, 2009
JPost.com Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST
Anti-Semitic attacks on Shabbat once again preceded the Jewish New Year for two Jewish communities on opposite sides of the globe.
A gang of skinheads was arrested in Russia on Sunday after a double arson attack on a synagogue and a police investigator’s house. The four were arrested on suspicion of having thrown Molotov cocktails at their targets in the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk, AFP reported Monday.
According to the local branch of the Russian interior ministry, the extremist group launched the double attack overnight Saturday. “The nationalists were divided into two groups: one threw Molotov cocktails at the windows of a synagogue, the other on the house of a policeman,” the ministry said.
“In the synagogue, the youth targeted a room specially equipped for children,” added the ministry spokesman.
The other target in the city was the home of a local policeman who investigates cases involving extremist violence such as Saturday’s anti-Semitic attack. The gang specifically threw their incendiary bombs at the room where they thought the man’s children slept, investigators said.
The Interior Ministry added that they believed the attacks were intentionally timed to coincide with the Jewish New Year.
The four suspects, ranging from 15 to 23 years old, could face up to five years in prison for arson. They could also be tried for attempted murder of a police officer.
In the same weekend, vandals destroyed nearly 60 gravestones at a Jewish cemetery in Buenos Aires, said the secretary-general of the Jewish Community in Argentina on Sunday. The cemetery includes the graves of some of the victims of the 1994 terrorist attack on a Jewish community center in the Argentinian capital.
Julio Schlusser added that the incident took place sometime between Friday afternoon and Saturday, but that the damage was only discovered on Sunday. Jewish law prohibits visiting cemeteries on Shabbat, and the cemetery in the La Tablada area of Buenos Aires was closed to visitors during the presumed time of the attack.
The community spokesman said that 58 graves were vandalized, including those of eight victims of the terrorist attack that claimed the lives of 86 people, most of them Jews.
“We are shocked that four days before Rosh Hashana, such an act of vandalism took place in a holy cemetery like La Tablada,” said Shlusser, adding that the anonymous vandals defaced every significant dedication object or marker, including photographs of the eight victims of the attack.
Maria Jose Lubertino, head of Argentina’s National Institute Against Discrimination, called the incident an “anti-Semitic act”, calling on authorities to “intervene at the level of the district court and prosecution.”