Israelis destroying historic Muslim cemetery to build a park


Ahmad Gharabli/AFP

A few metres away from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound’s eastern walls lies the centuries-old Al-Yousufiya Cemetery, also known as the Bab al-Asbat (Lion’s Gate) Cemetery.

Over the past few weeks, videos and images of Palestinians clinging to their family members’ graves as Israeli forces arrest, beat, and attempt to forcibly pull them away have widely circulated on social media.

Israeli occupation authorities in Jerusalem have been moving ahead with plans to build a Jewish “national park” set to open in mid-2022 over parts of the cemetery, which spans more than 14 dunams (1.4 hectares) of land.

Three weeks ago, workers from the Israeli-controlled Jerusalem municipality and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority exposed human remains during excavations, causing outrage and unleashing continuous protests and prayers at the site.

Since then, Palestinians have been increasing their presence at the graveyard, including those going to protect their dead, and confronting Israeli forces, which responded with tear gas, stun grenades, physical beatings, arrests, temporary bans on individuals from visiting the cemetery.

People may debate whether the Israeli forces are committing a sin or a crime. No matter what you call this, it must stop. Since the political clown show in Washington is the major prop to the Israeli government, communicating rejection of this ongoing desecration to our own elected officials is worth doing. If for nothing else – a call for justice.

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