5 teens detained in vandalism of Jewish cemetery in France

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — Five French teens were detained in the vandalism of some 300 graves in a Jewish cemetery in northeastern France.

The vandalism at the Jewish cemetery in Sarre-Union, located in the Alsace region, was discovered over the weekend.

The five suspects, aged 15 to 17, were detained Monday after the youngest alleged vandal turned himself in. The teen was shocked by the nationwide reaction to the attack, French prosecutor Philippe Vannier told the French news agency AFP. The teen has denied that there was an anti-Semitic motive, according to the report.

In addition to knocking over the tombstones, a monument to Holocaust victims also was vandalized.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Twitter last week called the vandalism “a vile, anti-Semitic act, an insult to the memory” of the dead.

The Jewish cemetery in Sarre-Union has been attacked in the past. In 1988, 60 Jewish headstones were overturned, and in 2001, 54 graves were vandalized.