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Heavy damage in Moldovan cemetery blamed on loggers

(JTA) — Unlicensed loggers may be to blame for damage to a Jewish cemetery in the capital Chisinau.

Unidentified individuals broke into Chisinau’s Metropolitan Jewish Cemetery earlier this week and caused “serious damage” to graves, according to a report Thursday on Jewish.ru, a Moscow-based news site.

Russia’s Jewish News Agency reported dozens of headstones and graves were destroyed in what appeared to be the work of unlicensed loggers who had felled dozens of healthy trees.

Falling timber apparently smashed some headstones. The paths are still blocked by debris and fallen branches, Jewish.ru reported.

The Moldovan government and city officials did not issue a statement directly after the incident, nor have they stated whether they regarded the incident as anti-Semitic, according to the report.

The damage was discovered just ahead of the April 6 anniversary of the Chisinau pogrom of 1903 that resulted in the murder of nearly 50 Jews.

Hundreds more were wounded in the three-day killing spree, which provoked an international outcry and helped shape the thinking of  Ze’ev Jabotinsky, a founding Zionist who advocated Jews take up arms to defend themselves.

Locals perpetrated a smaller pogrom in 1905. Many of the victims of those pogroms are buried in the damaged cemetery.

Moldova had a Jewish population of 350,000 before the Holocaust, according to the European Jewish Congress. Today, approximately 20,000 Jews live in Moldova.

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