Muslim, Christian graves vandalized in Israeli city

The words "death to all Arabs" are sprayed on this tombstone in the Muslim cemetery in Jaffa, Israel.

Story highlights

  • More than 100 graves were vandalized in two cemeteries -- one Christian, one Muslim
  • "Death to all Arabs" among the epithets spray-painted on gravestones
  • Incident comes less than a week after a fire badly damaged a mosque in northern Israel
  • On Wednesday, Joseph's Tomb, a site sacred to Jews, was vandalized in the West Bank
Less than a week after the arson of a mosque in northern Israel, dozens of Christian and Muslim graves were vandalized in an Arab section of the Israeli city of Jaffa.
More thahan 100 graves were vandalized in the Muslim cemetery of al-Kazakhana and at a nearby Christian cemetery in the Ajami neighborhood of Jaffa, according to residents and a CNN producer who visited the locations.
Some of the graves were spray painted with graffiti while others were smashed.
Residents say the vandalism took place Friday evening as the Yom Kippur holiday was beginning in Israel, but police suggested it might have taken place a day or two prior.
Among the words spray-painted in Hebrew on the gravestones were "price tag" and "death to all Arabs."
"Price tag" is a term frequently used by radical Israeli settlers to denote reprisal attacks against Palestinians in response to moves by the Israeli government to evacuate illegal West Bank outposts, or as retribution for attacks by Palestinians.
Local residents told CNN that police who arrived at the scene on Saturday morning tried to cover up the graffiti using white paint. The police also asked locals to clean up the graffiti.
"This is bad, this very, very bad. This is all because of the settlers that moved into the neighborhood. When they did this, the writing was on the wall," Jaffa resident Kamel Satal told CNN.
He was referring to the opening in 2009, just blocks away in the predominantly Arab neighborhood, of a Hesder Yeshiva, a religious school for young men which traditionally combines Torah studies with military service.
"If they did what they did in Zangaria in Jaffa, there would be big, big problems," he added, referring to the mosque that was severely damaged in an suspected arson attack in the Israeli Bedouin village of Tuba Zangaria in northern Israel on Monday. An 18-year-old Jewish Israeli was arrested in connection with the arson.
Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said police were investigating the vandalism at the cemeteries.
Speaking to the Palestinian Authority run WAFA news agency, Ibrahim Sarsour, an Arab Israeli lawmaker, condemned the vandalism.
"The Israeli government was not making any effort to stop these racist attacks against Palestinians," Sarsour said. "Rather, it provides extremists protection."
According to Israeli police, reprisals have increased in the past year, prompting them to create a special investigative unit.
In the past year, four West Bank mosques have been set ablaze. The United Nations has reported a measurable spike in violence against Palestinian property in 2011.
On Wednesday, a shrine holy to Jews was desecrated in the West Bank.
Jewish worshippers arrived at Joseph's Tomb in the city of Nablus to find swastikas and graffiti sprayed on the walls. It is unclear when the graffiti was left there. The site is under Palestinian Authority rule, and Jews visit every couple of months to pray.