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Thursday, August 05, 2004

Synagogue torched and 100 Jewish graves vandalized

Wellington, New Zealand

NZ City: Police have raised their estimate of the number of Jewish graves desecrated at a Wellington cemetery.

A small synagogue in the Jewish section of the Makara cemetery has also been destroyed by fire in this morning's attack.

Reporter Ann Marie Cresswell, who is at the scene, says firefighters arrived at about 4.25am.

Initially police thought about 40 graves had been vandalised, but as day broke, they found the figure was closer to 100.

The Fire Service has extinguished the blaze at the synagogue but the roof has been destroyed and the interior has suffered smoke damage. The fire is being treated as suspicious.

Last month, gravestones were desecrated at Wellington's Bolton Street Cemetery. Some Jewish leaders blame the Government, following its harsh rebuke of Israel over the spy scandal.

Police says the vandalism at the Makara Cemetery differs because at Bolton Street, other pieces of marble were used to smash up the headstones. The headstones at Makara have been pushed over rather than broken.

Y'hei sh'lama raba min-sh'maya, v'chayim aleinu v'al-kol-yis-roel, v'imru: Amen. - May there be great peace from the heavens and life for us and for all of Israel and we say: Amen.