Jewish cemetery outside Strasbourg vandalized

Vandalism discovered hours before market shooting

By CÉLIA HEUDEBOURG AND CNN'S TOM HERTIG CONTRIBUTED TO THIS REPORT.
Jonathan M/Wikimedia

Place Kléber in Strasbourg, France

(CNN) - Tombstones and a Holocaust memorial in a Jewish cemetery outside Strasbourg, France, were vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti earlier this week.

The vandalism was discovered Tuesday at the Herrlisheim Jewish cemetery hours before a gunman opened fire in Strasbourg's Christmas market, killing four people and wounding 13. Police killed the suspect Thursday evening, authorities said.

It's not known whether the vandalism and the attack were connected.

Thirty-seven tombstones were desecrated with spray-painted Nazi swastikas and other graffiti.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner attended a ceremony Friday at the cemetery and decried the vandalism.

"When a place of recollection is desecrated, the whole republic is defiled," he tweeted Friday. "I came this morning to support the Jewish community and all the inhabitants of Herrlisheim after the anti-Semitic and xenophobic degradations committed in this Israelite cemetery.

"Everything is being done to identify and catch the authors of this profane act. I have full confidence in the police, which is conducting forensic investigations. These heinous acts cannot remain unpunished."

Strasbourg shooting suspect killed by police, Paris authorities say

The Israelite Consistory (or consortium) of Bas-Rhin, the section of France where the vandalism occurred, issued a statement that referenced vandalism at a Jewish cemetery in Sarre-Union in 2015.

"While the graves of the Sarre-Union cemetery, desecrated in 2015, are still down, this new hateful act only amplifies the feeling of exasperation of the Jewish community in the face of growing anti-Semitism.

"The Consistory launches a solemn appeal to the authorities and particularly to the President of the Republic so that effective and pragmatic measures are taken to ensure the security of the property and people of the Jewish community, and that this plague that is gangrenous to our society ceases," the statement said.

The-CNN-Wire ™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.