Israel arrests four Palestinians over Jaffa protest against razing of historic Muslim cemetery

Israel arrests four Palestinians over Jaffa protest against razing of historic Muslim cemetery
2 min read
20 July, 2020
Palestinian Muslim community leaders have accused Israeli police of racism due to their handling of protests against the razing of an 18th-century cemetery in Jaffa.
A local court last month rejected a lawsuit against the plans [Getty]
Israeli police on Sunday arrested four Palestinian demonstrators amid ongoing protests against the construction of a homeless shelter on the site of a more than 200-year-old Muslim cemetery, local media reported.

Palestinian citizens of Israel have been protesting the planned razing of the historic burial ground in Jaffa since June.

A Tel Aviv court last month rejected a petition by the Jaffa Islamic Council which claimed the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality did not have the legal right to built over the Al-Isaaf cemetery, which dates back to the 18th century and was re-discovered in 2018.

The court halted construction at the site until another hearing set to take place on Wednesday this week. 

Local police on Sunday arrested four people accused of "hurling stones and firecrackers" at officers during a heated demonstration against the plans.

Around 200 local protesters were met with flash grenades and water cannons.

Mohammad Edrei, the chairman of the Muslim charitable trust board, said the heavy response was emblematic of "police racism".

Israelis protesting against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday were challenged by officers "only armed with gloves" compared to the "clubs and flash grenades and assault rifles" used by officers in Jaffa, Edrei told Haaretz.

"I'm embarrassed to put these things into proportion because here it's several dozen protesters compared to thousands on Rothschild [protesting Netanyahu]. If this isn't police racism in action, what is?"

Tarek Ashkar, director of the Islamic Council, also accused police of racism over their handling of the protests.

"Yesterday you gave out 300 masks to protesters and today you threw 300 grenades. You are racists," Haaretz quoted Ashkar as telling officers.

Abed Gazaabou Shehadeh, Tel Aviv's only Palestinian council member, said last month he intended to withdraw from the council over the "insensitive" decision.

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