Israel demolishes Muslim cemetery near Al Aqsa Mosque to construct park

RAMALLAH, West Bank — The Israeli police have tightened the siege on the Yusufiya cemetery near Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, whereas the municipality and the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority have been demolishing components of the cemetery and tombstones since Oct. 25.

On Oct. 28, the Israeli authorities fenced the partitions surrounding the cemetery and put in surveillance cameras, and on Oct. 29, Israeli police fired tear fuel to forestall dozens of Jerusalemites from visiting their lifeless.

The Jerusalem municipality has been working additional time to demolish extra components of the cemetery since Oct. 17, when the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court rejected a request submitted by the Committee for the Care of Islamic Cemeteries in Jerusalem to droop bulldozing the cemetery and exhuming graves.

The Israeli authorities are searching for to show this a part of the cemetery, which incorporates the Martyrs’ Monument the place Palestinians and Jordanians who fought within the 1967 warfare are buried, right into a public biblical park, across the partitions of the Old City.

The Yusufiya cemetery was established firstly of the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem, however it was restored and expanded throughout the reign of Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi and was named after him — Youssef bin Ayoub bin Shadi. It is an extension of the Bab al-Rahma cemetery. After the town was occupied in 1967, the Jerusalem municipality took possession of the half that features the graves of the martyrs. 

The whole space of the Yusufiya cemetery is 25 dunums (about 6 acres), 4 dunums (1 acre) of which Israel goals to construct the park over. It is likely one of the 4 Islamic cemeteries in Jerusalem and is situated near the Jerusalem wall and the Lions Gate, which is a very powerful entrance to the Old City.

Najeh Bakirat, the deputy director-general of the Jerusalem Waqf, advised Al-Monitor that the bulldozing is a part of a much bigger Israeli challenge, which is constructing a temple within the place of Al-Aqsa Mosque, so it’s working to determine biblical parks surrounding the Old City and the partitions of Al-Aqsa, to overwhelm Jerusalem’s public scene with Judaization.

That work is continuing on three ranges, Bakirat mentioned. The first is to erase the Arab-Islamic scene, corresponding to Islamic cemeteries and houses, and to switch them with Israeli parks that embrace indicators in Hebrew.

It can be attempting to displace Muslim Jerusalemites, in order that many started burying their lifeless outdoors the town. On the opposite hand, Israel is growing the variety of Hebrew settlers and attracting them to the town, he defined.

The third approach, Bakirat mentioned, is changing Arabic names with Hebrew ones, in addition to altering the final geographical scene. He expects that Israel is not going to cease at concentrating on 4 dunums of the Yusufiya cemetery, however will proceed to nibble on the remaining areas till it takes management utterly.

Bakirat identified that Israel did the identical within the Ma’man Allah cemetery, on which Israel constructed the Museum of Tolerance, along with vacationer amenities. Israel took management of the positioning in 1948. The municipality constructed two streets within the western a part of it, after which the Independence Park, an enormous car parking zone, the Leonardo Plaza Jerusalem Hotel, and several other cafes. In the japanese a part of the cemetery, it started constructing the Museum of Tolerance. 

The Palestinian Authority warned towards bulldozing the Yusufiya cemetery, as President Mahmoud Abbas’ advisor for non secular and Islamic affairs, Mahmoud al-Habbash, spoke on Oct. 27 about “the ongoing crime committed by the occupation’s bulldozers against the Yusufiya cemetery in occupied Jerusalem. …This could lead to violent confrontations with the occupation forces in a way that no one expects.”

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Hussein, advised Al-Monitor, “The cemeteries are part of the identity of the holy city and its narrative, and evidence of the Arab and Islamic presence in the city for thousands of years. Obliterating the city’s landmarks is in the interest of the Jewish settlement project and the Israeli narrative, which is embodied by changing the names of Arab cities, neighborhoods, and streets, and the Judaization of public places and landmarks.”

Ahmed Dajani, a member of the Committee for the Care of Islamic Cemeteries in Jerusalem, advised Al-Monitor that the world within the Yusufiya cemetery that Israel is bulldozing consists of the stays of dozens of Jordanian troopers who died the 1967 warfare. Jerusalemites needed to burry them there in mild of the curfew imposed on the town at the moment.

The Israeli Nature and Parks Authority and the Israel Antiquities Authority are colluding with the Jerusalem municipality on the challenge, Dajani mentioned: “Before beginning any challenge, the Israel Antiquities Authority searches for antiquities and bones, however it didn’t accomplish that within the Yusufiya cemetery, as a result of the Jerusalem municipality needs to hold on with the challenge it doesn’t matter what, though it’s nicely conscious whom the stays buried there belong to.”