Today, Monday, January 10, 2022, the Research and Studies Unit of the Forum for Development and Human Rights Dialogue (FDHRD) issued a report entitled: (Exhuming the Remains of the Landowners… Where is the Right to Sanctity of the Palestinian dead?)
The report confirmed that there is another bitter reality the Palestinians face, not the living, but the dead among them. It seems that even the dead must also struggle until they are resurrected. Not only did the Zionist occupation state eliminate their basic rights, but it also did not respect the sanctity of the dead. The Israeli authorities allow Jewish settlers to destroy, tamper with, and vandalize Palestinian tombstones under the protection of the Israeli security forces.
The report dealt with some topics, including:
Attacks on Palestinian graves:
The organization of burials and demarcation of graveyards in Jerusalem is in the hands of the Jordanian authority, given the historical guardianship of the city. In the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority is in charge of that. In both cases, the Palestinians suffer when their relatives are buried in small graveyards that are crowded with the bodies of the dead and martyrs, compared to the Jewish cemeteries in the settlements, which may be three times wider. This prompted some Palestinians to bury their dead in random graves, and bury the bodies on top of each other if eight years have passed since the previous burial.
The study confirms that approximately 40% of the settlers’ graves in the West Bank (an average of 600 graves) are located within 10 settlements or near them, were built on privately owned Palestinian land.
Attacks by groups of settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are almost systematically distributed on Palestinian cemeteries, under the protection of the occupation soldiers. They smash tombstones, throw rubbish and leftover food waste on graves, and worse still, throw excrement and feces on the tombstones.
Al-Yusufiyah cemetery is located at the entrance to the Asbat Gate (in Al-Aqsa Mosque), which is the most important entrance to the Old City in East Jerusalem. It has been subjected to many governmental and collective violations. In October 2021, the occupation forces bulldozed one of the tombs of the martyrs belonging to the cemetery that the bones of the dead was visible, with the aim of turning it into a Jewish biblical garden.
Also in East Jerusalem, the 200,000-square-meter Ma’man Allah cemetery was demolished, and the occupation built on its land the Museum of Tolerance. And before that, in the 1960s, Israel had bulldozed 60,000 square meters of it and built the “Independence Park” on it.
On the other hand, the Tel Aviv municipality in Jaffa has a track record of desecrating cemeteries, exhuming the remains of the dead, and selling Palestinian cemeteries to Israeli investment companies. The Al-Jammasin Cemetery and the Tasso Cemetery were destroyed to expand a Jewish neighborhood with the support of the Israeli Antiquities Authority. The Tel Aviv University administration built student houses over the cemetery of the abandoned village of Sheikh Munis.
False justifications and Zionist schemes:
The occupying state tries to place within each attack on a Palestinian cemetery justifications that show the extent of the internal frustration that the settlers carry in their psyche to violate the sanctity of the Palestinian dead. One of which is that these lands belong to the “absentees”, that is, those who migrated and were displaced as a result of the occupation, but in fact these lands have records with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
Palestinian lands and graves are confiscated and Islamic holy sites are desecrated under the pretext of ancient Jewish graves and archaeological sites, even if they have no historical significance. The settlers gather around them and erect the fence to hold Talmudic prayers in them or celebrate within those lands. For example, the Jews put the menorah on one of the ancient graves every “Khanukah” festival and disturb the Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem, which threatens to ignite confrontations with the occupation forces.
The report emphasized that strengthening the Jewish connection between Bab al-Rahma and the Mount of Olives creates a barrier between the Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and the Old City, turning the Mount of Olives into an Israeli grip for settlement expansion in East Jerusalem. The churches on the Mount of Olives are associated with Christian traditions, and their area is virtually separate from the area of the Olive Cemetery. But the Bab al-Rahma cemetery, adjacent to the eastern wall of the old city, compatible with the Islamic traditions of the place and important to it, is being abused by the Israeli authorities.
Moreover, in recent years, Israeli right-wing groups and some organizations have been fighting against the burial of Muslims at that site. The struggle ended with the approval of the Israeli government to impose a ban on burial at the site. As a result, the people of Silwan village find it difficult to bury their dead, to the point of skirmishes that end with the arrest of relatives of the dead during funerals.
Finally, the report stated that Palestinian cemeteries have become a political asset in the struggle for sovereignty in East Jerusalem, and it is clear that most of the actions of the Israeli government and settlers focus on consolidating control over these places.
The report recommended that the file of violations of Palestinian graves be transferred to the International Criminal Court, especially in light of the occupation authorities.