The graves were spray-painted in the Jewish cemetery of Westhoffen, a town about 30 km from Strasbourg, in what is the latest in a wave of anti-Semitic attacks across the country.
Officials said that 107 graves were spray-painted with swastikas as well as the number “14” — a popular hate symbol used by white supremacists.
The discovery followed a previous incident on the same day in which the nearby village of Schafhouse-sur-Zorn was found to have hate tags in its town hall.
France’s interior minister, Christophe Castaner, arrived at Westhoffen Wednesday to condemn the desecrations, as well as to announce the creation of a national anti-hate crime office.
“I want to say to those who think they can come here in the middle of the night and tarnish the memory of those who are buried here, tarnish the memory of our French republic … I want to tell them that we will not leave them alone and our means will be mobilized to follow up and act on this,” Castaner said, according to CNN.
France is home to Europe’s largest Jewish community, with over 550,000 Jews living in the country. Only Israel and the United States have a larger Jewish population.
Despite that figure, anti-Semitic attacks across the country are common and have increased over the last year, with 541 attacks happening in 2018 alone — a 74 per cent increase from 311 in 2017 according to statistics released by the government of France.
French president Emmanuel Macron condemned the defacement in a tweet Tuesday evening.
“Jews are and make France,” wrote Macron.
“Those who attack them, even in their graves, are not worthy of the idea we have of France.”
France’s Alsace region, which lies on the northeastern border with Germany, has been the subject of a string of anti-Semitic attacks over the last several months.
In the French village of Quatzenheim, 96 graves at a Jewish cemetery were desecrated with swastikas in February. Last December, 37 Jewish graves were also vandalized at the Herrlisheim cemetery.
Marches and rallies have previously taken place against anti-Semitism across France in the last year, some of which where organized in direct response to hate speech spewed by Yellow Vest anti-government protesters.
Sociologist Danny Trom previously told The Associated Press that thousands of Jewish people are leaving France every year due to the rise of anti-Semitism across the country.
“It is without equivalent in the history of France,” said Trom.
“Jews have been present in France since the dawn of time. Now, the pressure is such that they are led to consider their country inhospitable.”
— With files from The Associated Press
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