Israel's razing of Muslim cemetery seeks to 'erase history'

Israeli demolition of historic Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem a 'move to erase history'
3 min read
West Bank
26 October, 2021
Israel's antiquities authority resumed digging in the Yousufiyah Islamic cemetery with the Israeli court's authorization. Palestinians say it is part of a political agenda to 'judaize' Jerusalem.
Israel plans a 'Bible Trail' that crosses through part of the Yousufiyah cemetery

The razing of the the historic Muslim Yousufiyah cemetery by Israeli authorities in Jerusalem "is more than a mere judicial issue", said a spokesperson of the Committee for the Care of Muslim Cemeteries’ - CICA Affairs in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

The committee, which belongs to the Islamic religious endowments -Waqf, is in charge of the administration of Islamic cemeteries in the city. A spokesperson for the committee, who refused to disclose his name, told The New Arab that the Israeli court had authorised works in the cemetery based on the Israeli municipality's claim that it was in a part which contained no graves.

"It was demonstrated the contrary when the bones of the dead were unearthed by accident while bulldozing, two weeks ago," the CICA spokesperson said.

"The Israeli court ignored the evidence and maintained the authorisation," he added. "It is a political decision aiming to change the identity of the city, and it requires political pressure to stop it."

'Families in fear for their beloved ones' tombs'

Palestinians protested in the cemetery on Monday as Israeli bulldozers resumed work in the northern section of the historical part of the cemetery, which could date back to the 12th century.

A video footage became viral of a Palestinian woman being pulled away by the Israeli police as she tried to hold by one of the tombs, reportedly belonging to her deceased son.

"The woman was trying to protect her son's tomb, believing it would be destroyed by the bulldozers," explained the CICA spokesperson.

"That exact tomb was not targeted by the bulldozers, but Palestinian families in Jerusalem are in great fear for their beloved ones' tombs, as many tombs have been already digged by Israeli bulldozers."

A local source told The New Arab that Palestinians have continued to protest at the Yousufiyah cemetery into late Tuesday, as Israeli police used stun grenades to force protesters away from the digging works.

The part of the Yousufiyah cemetery undergoing Israeli works contains graves of Arab soldiers killed during the 1967 war, some of which are not marked, as well as other graves belonging to Palestinian families.

In 2014, Israel banned Palestinians from burying their dead in the Northern part of the cemetery, planned to be part of a ‘Bible Trail’ by the Israeli municipality, who demolished some 20 graves in the area, belonging to Jordanian soldiers.