Third arrest made in New Zealand Jewish cemetery attack


SYDNEY (JTA) — A third man was arrested in New Zealand in the anti-Semitic vandalism of a historic Jewish cemetery.

Police confirmed Monday that a 20-year-old was arrested and charged with willful damage following last week’s attack on more than 20 gravestones in Auckland, some dating back to the 1880s.

He and two others, aged 19 and 23, are scheduled to appear in the Auckland District Court on Tuesday.

Many gravestones were spray-painted with swastikas and the numbers "88," code for "Heil Hitler."

Interfaith leaders joined the chorus of condemnation, with the Catholic bishop of Auckland, Pat Dunn, branding it as "despicable."  

"I extend my solidarity and sympathy to my sisters and brothers of the Jewish community," he said.

Maori columnist Dion Tuuta called it "an abhorrent and cowardly" attack.

"A cemetery is a wahi tapu [sacred place]," he wrote Monday. "The idea of someone desecrating the burial site of someone else’s ancestors or loved ones is repugnant."

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