Outrage as Israel 'bulldozes' ancient Muslim cemetery
A group of Palestinian Islamic scholars slammed Israel on Monday for resuming efforts to destroy an ancient East Jerusalem Muslim graveyard.
The Palestinian Muslim Scholars Association said that Israel has failed to consider Muslim sentiment in its plans to transform the Al-Yusufiyah Cemetery into a "biblical" park.
They accused Israel of trying to "Judaize" the ancient Muslim cemetery, and said that this would increase tensions with Israel, which has illegally occupied East Jerusalem since 1967.
The association said that Islamic scholars should continue to expose Israeli efforts to "Judaize" Palestinian areas of Jerusalem.
Israel has long been accused of attempting to turn Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem into Jewish-Israeli ones by building settlements and taking over homes and property in violation of international law.
An estimated 200,000 Israeli settlers now live in Palestinian east Jerusalem and Israeli attempts to forcibly remove Palestinians from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah area of Jerusalem earlier this year led to global outrage.
Palestinians, including those with family members buried in Al- Yusufiyah, have previously protested against Israeli plans to bulldoze part of the cemetery.
The Israeli authorities in Jerusalem, however, have disregarded Palestinian outrage and restarted efforts to tear down the cemetery on Monday.
They used bulldozers to flatten an area of the site, according to Mustafa Abu Zahra, the head of the Committee for the Preservation of Islamic Cemeteries in Jerusalem.
Situated beside the wall around Jerusalem's historic Old City, Al-Yusufiyah Cemetery is among Jerusalem's most ancient Islamic burial sites.