Palestinian gunmen blew up a monument in a British-run cemetery for foreign soldiers in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on Thursday, witnesses and British diplomats said.
Witnesses said gunmen blew up the two-meter (6.5-foot) high stone monument in Britain's Gaza War Cemetery in central Gaza. No group claimed responsibility for the attack.
A statement issued by the British Consulate General in Jerusalem said the Gaza War Cemetery contains graves of British and other foreign soldiers who were killed in conflicts in the region from as early as World War One.
Many tombstones in the graveyard are marked with a cross or star of David, indicating that both Christians and Jews were buried there.
"The history of this region is complex. But the right of the dead to lie in peace and dignity is simple and should be respected by all," the statement said. "We hope that the authorities in Gaza will make every effort to apprehend those responsible."
Mohammed Awaja, the cemetery's caretaker who lives nearby, said he heard the explosion. "We had no idea that it was in the cemetery until two hours later when we discovered the explosion had blown up the monument," he said.
Hamas security forces, which seized control of the coastal territory in June after routing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah forces, said they were investigating the incident.