Grave of Murdered Israeli Leader Defaced

The graves of slain Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (search) and his wife, Leah, were found defaced in a Jerusalem cemetery Sunday, the latest in a wave of such incidents that police believe may be linked to ultranationalist Jews.

A police statement said the names on the graves, in the Mount Herzl national cemetery, were sprayed over with black paint and the words "murdering dog" written in Hebrew. It added that Jerusalem police chief Ilan Franco set up a special squad to investigate the grave desecrations. Rabin was assassinated in 1995 by an ultranationalist Jew opposed to his moves for peace with the Palestinians (search). His widow died of cancer in 2000 and was buried alongside him.

In the military section of the same cemetery on Friday, Nazi graffiti (search) was found spray-painted on the graves of 12 fallen soldiers.

Two days earlier the grave of Theodore Herzl, who established the Zionist movement and for whom Mount Herzl is named, was defaced with the words "Neo-Nazi Hail Beilin," while around the same time the word "Hitler" was scrawled in black spray-paint on the Negev Desert grave site of David Ben Gurion, Israel's first prime minister,

Israeli police said the reference to Yossi Beilin, the head of the dovish Yahad political party, raised the possibility that extremist Jews could be responsible for the graffiti.

Hard-line opponents of a planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip have been using Holocaust and Nazi slogans to denounce Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and others who support the pullout.

Sharon condemned the grave attacks.

"Any extremism is unnecessary and harmful," he told reporters on Sunday. "The law must be enforced and any extremist acts must be prevented."