Jerusalem municipality evacuates 100 graves in ancient cemetery

[ 26/06/2011 – 10:48 AM ]

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)–  Israeli occupation’s Jerusalem municipality destroyed some one hundred tombs Sunday morning in the historic Islamic Ma’manullah cemetery, Al-Aqsa Foundation has reported in a newsflash.

The foundation said it received a phone call from Abu Sheikha, advisor for Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque affairs to the Islamic Movement in 1948-occupied land, in which he said he had information confirming that bulldozers had been carrying out excavations in Ma’manullah cemetery since 11pm Saturday night.

Three bulldozers, two large and one small, and trucks were operated by 20 men, the source said, and they excavated about a hundred graves in three separate areas of what remains of the cemetery. He added that one of those areas is in the western area where the occupation’s oxymoronic Tolerance Museum is planned to be built.

The source said the workers were evacuating corpses using the bulldozers and the trucks. He added that when Arab media outlets arrived, the crew began pulling out fast.

Al-Aqsa Foundation said the operation drew out until 1am and was documented in photographs and video. One of the foundation’s crews arrived an hour after it was over to assess the damage.

The Jerusalem municipality and other Israeli organizations have destroyed some 300 graves there since Al-Aqsa Foundation undertook a restoration project in August 2010 on around 1,000 tombs. The Islamic heritage foundation later petitioned the Israeli Magistrates Court in a bid to halt the cemetery’s destruction, but the court ruled against it.

With an area of 200 dunams, Ma’manullah is the largest and oldest Islamic graveyard in Jerusalem. But it has been rapidly eaten up since Israel’s occupation in 1948. Most of the historic site has been turned into what is now “the Independence Park”. Other parts of it have been used for roads, hotels, and parking lots. Only 24 dunams of it remain after the heavy construction. There are currently three plots targeting the remaining portion.

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