JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Employees of Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority reportedly demolished Palestinian graves at the Bal al-Rahma cemetery in occupied East Jerusalem on Tuesday, according to the committee for the preservation of Islamic cemeteries in Jerusalem.
A member of the committee, Hamzeh Hijazi, told Ma’an that employees of the Nature Authority, escorted by Israeli forces, raided the Bal al-Rahma cemetery -- located alongside the eastern wall of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound -- and proceeded to demolish four Palestinian graves using handheld tools taken from the Palestinian families of Dibeh and al-Razem.
Hijazi reported that the graves were empty.
The Islamic Endowment Department condemned the demolition of Islamic graves, underscoring the need for these sites to be protected.
Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority has reportedly confiscated parts of the cemetery’s land in the past, prohibiting Palestinians from digging grave plots in the confiscated zones.
Rights groups have claimed the Nature Authority’s attention on the Palestinian cemetery reflects their larger goal of turning the area into a tourism park surrounding the Old City.
The Bal al-Rahma cemetery is said to be more than 1,400 years old.