Following a number of controversial excavations in recent weeks to Islamic holy sites, a new violation took place Tuesday by Israeli troops who accompanied Israeli government officials to demolish a Muslim cemetery.
The destruction took place at the historic Bab al-Rahmeh cemetery, near the al-Aqsa Mosque in east Jerusalem. Parts of the cemetery had been confiscated by the Israeli government in 2015.
The cemetery dates back more than 1400 years, and is considered one of the most significant Muslim historic sites in East Jerusalem, according to representatives of the Islamic Waqf of Jerusalem.
Mustafa Abu Zahra, the head of the Committee for the Preservation of Islamic Cemeteries, told the Anaolu News Agency that the Israeli officials were from the ‘Israeli Nature Authority’, and that a number of soldiers accompanied them into the cemetery with heavy equipment to carry out the destruction of the graves.
At least eight graves were destroyed, according to Abu Zahra.
The Director of the Al Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Omar Al-Qiswani, told reporters, “Israel claims the graves are situated on land owned by the Israeli Nature Authority. But Israel has no historical – or legal – basis on which to claim any right to the cemetery. The site is an Islamic Waqf [endowment] and will remain so.”
The Israeli government plans to turn the area into a park for Israeli Jews, which will exclude Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza.