Antisemitism is rampant in Greece with acts of vandalism noted 16 times over the last year. More recently, the Jewish monument at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki was smashed just two days before the commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance in Greece.

Prosecutor Evangelos Zarkantzias instructed police on Monday to treat the attack as a breach of Greece’s laws against racism as these carry a heavier penalty than acts of ordinary vandalism.

The attacks have concerned the Jewish community in Greece as well as the government of Israel.

The Israeli Ambassador to Greece, Irit Ben-Abba, had blamed the Greek Orthodox Church for remaining silent in the face of antisemitism and allowing it to thrive. Speaking at a ceremony to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day, she called on the Greek Orthodox Church to publically condemn the act. She suggested that it was linked to demonstrations against the Greek government’s signing of the Prespes Agreement. 

“The anger of the fascist and extreme right elements is coming out and is evidently being taken out on the Jewish sites of northern Greece,” she said.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin called on his Greek counterpart, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, to do something about the attacks.