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Israeli authorities demolish parts of Palestinian cemetery in Jerusalem

Sept. 11, 2017 3:19 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 12, 2017 11:52 A.M.)
Part of the wall of the 'martyrs' cemetery that was demolished (MaanImages)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces on Monday morning demolished parts of the outer wall of a Palestinian cemetery in occupied East Jerusalem, according to local sources.

Mustafa Abu Zahra, head of the committee for the preservation of Islamic cemeteries in Jerusalem, told Ma’an that bulldozers escorted by officers of Israel's Nature And Parks Authority (INPA) demolished the western section of the al-Shuhada, or ‘martyrs’, cemetery, which is an extension of the al-Yusifiya cemetery located at the Lion’s Gate entrance of the Old City.

According to Abu Zahra, after demolishing the outer cemetery wall, bulldozers continued to work in the area before a group of Jerusalemite Palestinians arrived and “coerced the bulldozers to stop leveling the land.”
Sections of the wall that were demolished(MaanImages)

Neither an Israeli police nor INPA spokesperson were immediately available for comment on the reports.

Abu Zahra told Ma’an that the demolition, which Israeli officials had attempted to carry out last month, was part of an ongoing campaign by the Israel Land Authority (ILA) to level the lands of the cemetery in order to build a national park in the area.

Fatah official Hatem Abed al-Qader described Monday’s events as an “attack on the cemetery,” saying the demolition was "part of Israeli plans to turn Jerusalem into a Jewish city."

In addition to the al-Shuhada cemetery, which houses the graves of people killed by Israeli forces in the 1967 war -- after which Israel illegally occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Bab al-Rahma cemetery has been subject to demolitions after Israeli authorities announced plans to seize parts of the cemetery for a national park trail in 2015.
Sections of the wall that were demolished(MaanImages)

While Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1980, according to Palestinians and the international community, the city has remained an intricate part of the occupied Palestinian territory and would be considered the capital of any future Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution.

The fate of Jerusalem and its holy sites has been a focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades, with numerous tensions arising over Israeli threats regarding the status of non-Jewish religious sites in the city, and the "Judaization" of East Jerusalem.

The United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee adopted a resolution in July reaffirming the international body’s non-recognition of Israeli sovereignty in East Jerusalem, and condemned Israeli policies in the Old City.

The resolution referred to Israel as an “occupying power” in East Jerusalem, and stated that UNESCO “regrets the failure of the Israeli occupying authorities to cease the persistent excavations, tunneling, works, projects and other illegal practices in East Jerusalem, particularly in and around the Old City of Jerusalem, which are illegal under international law.”

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