GAZA CITY (AFP) - Pictures of Iraqi prisoners being abused by US troops and vengeful inscriptions were found on desecrated graves of British soldiers of World War I in Gaza City, the cemetery curator said.
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"Eight to ten men smashed 32 tombstones Sunday night," said Issam Jaradah, who is in charge of the northern Gaza City cemetery's maintenance.
Some of the infamous pictures depicting scenes of mistreatment inside the US-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq (news - web sites) were found stuck on the tombs, some of which also bore the Nazi swastika and the inscription in English "Revenge", Jaradah told AFP.
He said that he and his father prevented the vandals, some of whom were armed, from desecrating more of the tombs in the Gaza War Cemetery.
The Jaradah family, eight members of which receive salaries from the British embassy in Israel, has been in charge of the cemetery for more than 60 years. It has never before been desecrated.
A Palestinian security source strongly condemned the desecration and promised "the necessary measures" against those responsible.
A spokesman for the British Consulate-General also condemned "this act of vandalism" but would not comment on possible measures for British citizens in the Gaza Strip (news - web sites) or the West Bank.
Pictures were aired last week on US television showing inmates at the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad, some naked, in humiliating, sexually suggestive poses, with some images also showing US military personnel pointing and laughing at prisoners.
The pictures sparked outrage worldwide, especially in the Arab world.
The Daily Mirror also printed photographs apparently showing British troops beating and urinating on an Iraqi prisoner.
According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the Gaza cemetery contains 3,217 Commonwealth burials from World War One, 781 of them unidentified. World War Two burials number 210.
There are also 30 post war burials and 234 war graves of other nationalities, the organisation says on its website.
British troops fought three battle against Turkish troops in the Gaza Strip during World War I.
They finally broke the Turkish lines in 1917 under the command of General Sir Edmund Allenby in the Third Battle of Gaza and marched on to capture Jerusalem.
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