23 March 2018

Head of the committee for the preservation of Islamic cemeteries in Jerusalem, Mustafa Abu Zahra, last Friday warned of Israeli plans to launch settlement projects in Islamic graveyards in Jerusalem.

Abu Zahra told the Palestine Information Center (PIC) reporter that the Israeli authorities have marked some graves in the eastern side of Bab al-Rahma cemetery in preparation for a construction project on part of the cemetery and Palestinian lands owned by the families of al-Husseini and al-Ansari.

Eyewitnesses said that crews from Israel’s Nature Authority on Thursday broke into the cemetery, which is adjacent to al-Aqsa Mosque, placed signs on a number of graves and took some measurements in the place.

Waqf director, Azzam al-Khatib, and the imam of al-Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Yusuf Abu Sneineh, quarreled with the Israeli staff for trespassing on private Muslim property and walking on the graves and ordered them to leave the site.

Abu Zahra condemned the repeated Israeli attacks on Jerusalem cemeteries, affirming that Israel seeks to Judaize the city by obliterating its Arab and Islamic landmarks.

The Jerusalemite official noted that contacts have been made with the competent legal authorities to follow up the new settlement project and study ways to stop it.

For his part, lawyer Sami Ershid said that the Israeli authorities are trying by all means to seize part of the cemetery’s land although some cases involving the same cemetery are still pending before court.

Ershid said that the Israeli authorities are pursuing a fait accompli policy that has no legal basis, noting that a petition will be filed with the Jerusalem District Court next week in an effort to stop the Israeli attack.

Bab al-Rahma cemetery has been recently subjected to a series of Israeli violations aimed it seizing it. Israel’s Antiquities Authority, for example, has attempted to confiscate 40% of the cemetery’s land and placed barbered wires in part of it in preparation for turning it into a biblical garden.

Crews from Israel’s Nature Authority, escorted by the Israeli police, have lately uprooted trees and dug up graves in Bab al-Rahma, one of the oldest Islamic cemeteries in Jerusalem, in order to build a fence to prevent Jerusalemites from burying new bodies in the cemetery. Israel also plans to build a cable car over the Old City of Jerusalem and wants to build a station for the cable car in an area of the cemetery.

Bab al-Rahma contains the graves of the prominent Sahabah – Sayyidina Shaddad ibn Aus and Ubadah ibn Saamit (RA) as well as upto 70 other companions, some of whose identities are known.

SOURCE: PIC, with editing from MasjidalAqsa.net