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Israel says ancient Muslim gravestones 'built illegally'
Published Thursday 05/08/2010 (updated) 07/08/2010 12:06
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By Soraya Bauwens-Nuseibeh

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israel's Jerusalem Municipality said Thursday that tombstones razed by authorities a day earlier in a 12th-century Muslim cemetery were "built illegally with the aim to take over the plot."

At least 15 tombstones and structures were torn apart Wednesday in the Mamilla (Ma'man Allah) cemetery, the Al-Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Heritage said. The latest demolitions follow the disinterment of over 1,500 graves in 2009 to make way for a controversial Museum of Tolerance. The foundation quickly denounced the move, describing it as a "heinous crime."

Mandated with renovating burial grounds, the foundation said its crew led by Fawaz Hassan and Mustafa Abu Zuhra tried to block the bulldozers with their bodies but were removed by police. Israeli authorities razed the tombstones in the northeastern part of the cemetery, despite the crew's objection, and left an hour after.

A spokesman for Israel's national police did not return multiple calls seeking comment, but the Jerusalem municipality said in a statement that it had "located illegal activity at the site," filed a complaint with police, and "turned to the Israel Land Administration, who owns the land, to restore [it] to its prior condition. The ILA cleared the vacant tombstones, which were built illegally with the aim to take over the plot."

Dating back 1,000 years, the Mamilla cemetery was an active burial ground until 1948, when West Jerusalem became part of the newly declared State of Israel. According to Muslim tradition, it is the burial site of the Prophet Mohammad's companions, Salah Ad-Din's warriors, Sufi saints, as well as judges, scholars, and Palestinian dignitaries.

Plans for the museum, funded by the Simon Wisenthal Center, a Jewish charity in the US, were unveiled in 2004 and sparked immediate controversy. Palestinian descendants with relatives buried at the site have launched a lengthy legal and public relations battle in a bid to stay the museum's construction. In 2008, however, they lost a case before Israel's High Court, which ruled in favor of the museum.

One descendant is US academic Rashid Khalidi, the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University. He told Ma'an that "If it is true that further graves in the Mamilla cemetery have in fact been bulldozed, then clearly the ongoing process of desecration of this sacred space has not been halted by the efforts of the families of those interred there to bring this issue before a variety of international forums."

"As far as the Israeli authorities are concerned, some graves merit respect, and some do not. Those of our ancestors in this cemetery, going back in some cases for many hundreds of years, obviously do not."

In February, Mamilla descendants filed a petition with the UN, later submitting evidence compiled by the Israeli daily Haaretz, which revealed in a three-part expose the extent of disinterment, publishing photographs of remains being stuffed haphazardly into cardboard boxes. The families of those buried at the site say the Israeli government has yet to inform them of the location of their relatives' remains.

Gideon Sulimani, an archeologist with Israel's Antiquities Authority who carried out the initial digs in 2009, told the newspaper at the time: "They call this an archaeological excavation but it’s really a clearing-out, an erasure of the Muslim past. It is actually Jews against Arabs."

In June, Nazareth-based journalist Jonathan Cook revealed that a second dig was in the works, with Israel planning a courthouse on the historic site. At least three tombstones were removed that same month.

Most of the graves are unrecognisable and in disrepair, owing to decades of neglect. Descendants of those buried there say personal attempts to replace or maintain tombstones have been repeatedly quashed and swiftly removed by Israeli authorities. The Al-Aqsa Foundation's renovation crew says the municipality regularly thwarts their attempts to maintain the site.

The municipality says it "will not allow extremist elements to act illegally to change the status quo."
1 ) Colin Wright / USA
05/08/2010 21:01
Too good to be true... "...built illegally with the aim to take over the plot." Can you provide a more precise attribution for this quote? A link to an Israeli source? I want this to have been said -- but I'm hesitant to believe it.

2 ) Capt.Moshe Rashidi / Israel
06/08/2010 01:40
Arab gentlemen were caught placing old tumbstones in order to grab the plot of land deceitfully. There are no bodies buried there. Crooks will be brought before the judge.

3 ) Jerrold Cohen / USA
06/08/2010 02:22
Amazing! Jerusalem's Municipality consists of Ph.D. historians with deep understanding of the 12th century! How else could they make this determination? Well, people with such erudite learning certainly have the right to blow up Muslim gravestones, despite the deep emotional wounds to members of the families involved.

4 ) southparkbear / usa
06/08/2010 02:27
the land of israel is eretz israel not palestinian do whatever they want

5 ) Mark of Lewiston / USA
06/08/2010 03:18

6 ) Anna Morel / USA
06/08/2010 03:33
Dr Rashid Khalidi writes about a lack of respect for Arab graves, and that he is a descendant of those buried there!
Regarding a lack of respect perhaps he could explain Arab respect,
- while building a hotel on Jewish graves*,
- using the Western Wall as a latrine,
- defacing Joseph's tomb,
- building a mosque on our Temple Mount,


7 ) Anna Morel / USA
06/08/2010 03:35
In what way does Rashid Khalidi know that he is a descendant of those (if any) that are buried the cemetary?

8 ) bob jones / USA
06/08/2010 07:06
this is typical Zionism The Zionists are lyers and blood thirsty murderers. the end of Zionism is coming. the march to Palestine has started and no one not the zionists in the white house, nor the zionists in europe can stop the demise of zionism. You were created with the murder of innocent Palestinians and you shall reep what you have sewn on this earth.

9 ) Tom Portman / Canada
06/08/2010 07:11
Hey Anna Morel, you are a good lying zionist. You and your Zionist cancer will soon end. Zionism is a gutter ideology which the world knows is the ill of all that you spread. Zionism will fall and those who oppressed the innocent will pay for the sins of Zionism. Zionism must be destroyed.

10 ) Karl McPatrick / USA
06/08/2010 07:14
Israel has no respect for the living or the dead. never believe a thing an israeli tells you. israel is a bad experiement and as an american i am ashamed that my country supports this rogue terrorist fake country.

11 ) sholomo ben lok / england
06/08/2010 07:27
israel is a murderous lying enemy of the world. Zionism must be destroyed. All God fearing Jews must work for the destruction of Israel.

12 ) Niva dos Santos / Brazil
06/08/2010 07:58
In the entire world, only a illegal institution so-called Israel blow up Muslim gravestones or any other!!!! Zions act as living in the Dark Age. Hey... they live in the Dark Age!!! Till when, nobody knows...

13 ) marie / OPT
06/08/2010 08:24
Well, I didn't think anything the zionists do could surprise me anymore, but I was wrong. How heinious! Of course they want to wipe the fact that Palestinians have lived on the land they are illegally occupying. But to raze an ancient graveyard is more than an act against Palestinians or Muslims. It is an act against all people who care about history and tradition and culture.

14 ) Itay Kander / Israel
06/08/2010 10:11
i sometimes pass by that cemetery on my way to the local pub. this bullshit hippie museum illustrates well the israeli authorities' disrespect to the arab population of the city. its all words and no deeds. anna -- does one wrong deed cancel the other? i don't think so. i don't think the intifada canceled the occupation. its just piles of injustice. moshe -- that cemetery has been there like, forever. that the graves have been placed there recently... sounds like a whole lot of bull crap to me.

15 ) Jacob Singer / USA
06/08/2010 10:17
@Anna You are ridiculous. Go live in the west bank with a Palestinian family for a month and you will see how evil the occupation is. The racism and hatred that Israel shows... even to their own...

16 ) Mark of Lewiston / USA
06/08/2010 10:28
Anna Morel - Joseph's Descendants are Samaritans. And more live in Nablus than live inside Israel. In the 8th Century, the Temple of Diana was torn down and replaced by the Dome and Al Aqsa. In the 12th Century, al Aqsa was turned into a Palace, then a stable, then back into a Mosque. The Muslims did not tear down Herod's Temple. Neither did the Christians. And Solomon's Temple wasn't torn down by Muslims either. What was it before David? (Not Jewish)

17 ) Bill / USA
06/08/2010 10:38
Being a Jew doesn’t mean you shouldn’t respect other religions and other peoples holy sites. Israel should respect all international laws that helped to create it in order to earn a dignified role in the international community. Ann Morel, I suggest you do some more readings before making such blunt statements.

18 ) Maureen / Australia
06/08/2010 10:48
The Simon Wisenthal Center, a Jewish charity. Are you sure? Desecration of graves and burial grounds sounds more like the despicable deeds of the neo-Nazi skin head organization that the Jews are always complaining about... Museum of Tolerance. LOL, the Zionists can't even 'tolerate' Jews who don't pass the "Jewishness test" in Israel!

19 ) Anna Morel / USA
06/08/2010 14:16
Compared to Israel's story*, this Maan News story seems like INCITEMENT!

"Arutz Sheva report Wednesday morning that Muslims were enlarging the Mamilla cemetery with fake tombs, authorities removed the tombs by Wednesday evening.
Dozens of false tombs were 'planted' just west of the cemetery, on land that is part of Independence Park (Gan HaAtzmaut) at city center. There were no graves beneath the tombs. The fake tombs were removed"

20 ) betz55 / USA
06/08/2010 14:41
Can you imagine if a jewish cemetary was dug up and desecrated? We would never hear the end of it: we're victims! how could they do this? remember the holocaust.

Israel has once again shown its true colors and the lying sneaks that they are. Be gone, and soon.

The end of Israel is upon us and I for one am thrilled. Those dirty dogs need to go.

21 ) Ld Elon / None
06/08/2010 14:43
You know Diana is lilleaf right?
Shes siad to be the mother of Buddah, and the wife of the light bearer or sister, even the first wife of Adam/Man.

22 ) Maureen / Australia
06/08/2010 16:15
2) Capt. Moshe Rashidi. You say, "There are no bodies buried there." When and, to where, did your people move them? I suggest you read: Haaretz 18.5.10 "Museum of Tolerance Special Report / Part II: Secrets from the grave" by Nir Hasson http://www.haaretz.com/magazine/friday-supplement/museum-of-tolerance-special-report-part-ii-secrets-from-the-grave-1.290941 Please comment after you read a witness account of how skeletal remains from the graves were shoved into cardboard boxes and taken away.

23 ) huda al imam / jerusalem
06/08/2010 17:09
There will always be voices to express the Truth !
This is where my grandfather Jamal Eddine is burried and i shall not wait for Israel to grab it !

24 ) Deir Yassin / France
06/08/2010 17:22
Anna Moron is contesting that Rashid Khalidi is descending from the well-known Khalidi-family who lived in Jerusalem for centuries. On the other hand, there is no doubt is her mind, that she is a direct descendent from the Ancient Hebrew who lived in the area two thousand years ago. Jews might be blond Scandinavian, Africans, Russian, Chinese etc, they still are the direct descendents of the Hebrew and therefore have the exclusive right to the land. The advantage of being "Chosen".

25 ) Deir Yassin / France
06/08/2010 17:37
Some serious infirmation on the Mamilla cemetery: 1) www.mamillacampaign.org 2) Video: vimeo.com/10915800 - including the grave of Sheikh Ahmed Dajani, born in Jerusalem 1459 3) www.jerusalemquarterly.org/View/Article.aspx?id=297 4) Interview with Rashid Khalidi: http://democracynow.org/2010/2/10/palestinian_families_appeal_to_us_over

26 ) betz55 / USA
06/08/2010 19:57
Hey southparkbear, your the ugly face of judaism. Your why Israel is being deligitimized and why no one wants anything to do with them. Keep it up. How many people can you smear for not agreeing with you? Why don't you move to Israel and shut up.

27 ) Dooderino / Brazil
06/08/2010 21:27
I blame Obama.

28 ) Anna Morel / USA
06/08/2010 21:44
"A jewish cemetary was dug up and desecrated",
by Jordan between 1948 & 1967!!
- Just search for Seven Arches Hotel to see what stands there now!

The Israel source says that ONLY THE NEW, FAKE,
EXPANSIONISTIC GRAVES were knocked down!!

That is NO WAY to speak to family, NOR true.
I admit that I can no more prove (NOR claim!) being the son of King David,
than Dr Khalidi can prove his "claimed" lineage!!

29 ) Maureen / Australia
07/08/2010 00:43
29) Anna Morel Zionist occupation of Palestine deny the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine their human rights so it is understandable that Zionists do not respect the grave sites of deceased Palestinians. You not only support Zionist belligerent occupation, Anna, you also support grave robbers. You sound like one sick puppy.

07/08/2010 05:54
Muslims destroyed 50,000 of the 70,000 Graves on the Mount Of Olives, in addition to their total destruction of other Jewish Cemeteries

P.S. One of my great aunts was buried on the Mount Of Olives, I can't find her, no gravestone

31 ) David / Canada
07/08/2010 07:26
The article incorrectly states: "Dating back 1,000 years, the Mamilla cemetery was an active burial ground until 1948, when West Jerusalem became part of the newly declared State of Israel." In fact, West Jerusalem - from which 60,000 Palestinians were expelled in March and early May 1948 - did not become part of Israel in 1948 and along with Bethlehem, will remain a corpus separatum as so designated by the UN in the 1947 Partition Plan, until Israel complies with UNSC Resolution 242.

32 ) JH / USA
07/08/2010 08:20
This is insane! A Museum of Tolerance built on top of the graves of ancient Muslim families for the past 1,000 years, the irony is so extreme I can barely stand it! I am completely disgusted by Israel and by the Simon Wisenthal Center, how can Jews desecrate the remains of another faith so completely after having experienced their own desecration at the hands of the Nazis. Why are Israeli's behaving like the Nazis now? So much for Israel being a democracy and "modern".

33 ) Be / Australia
07/08/2010 08:45
Oh dear, such hatred how many centuries more? An eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth till no one has eyes or teeth?.....for heavens sake draw a line under the horrible past, build a future worth having.

34 ) Ray / NZ
07/08/2010 10:31
Surely the question is: "Would you like this to be done to you or your ancestors?" If not then why do it to anyone else?

35 ) Nour / One-State
07/08/2010 10:46
Well well well..Anna Immorel is an avid reader of Arutz Sheva? Does not surprise me. That site is a hub of Jewish fanaticism and racism.

36 ) jorge / united states of arrogance
07/08/2010 11:51
Figures uncle sam hitler's " brilliant" creation israel frankenstein would take after daddy.

07/08/2010 16:50
35 ) Ray / NZ

It WAS done to my ancestors, refer to my post #31, this forum

You're free to click on any or all of the links for details

36 ) NOUR - That goes for you too
If you have facts to dispute, then do so, with facts, not your personal opinions, which don't amount to a small pile of beans

37) Jorge, that goes for you too !!!

33 ) JH / USA - That goes for you also
You built your Mosques on OUR Temple Mount

38 ) MarshallDoc / USA
07/08/2010 19:01
How utterly thoughtless of those 12th century Muslims to have put a graveyard where 21st century Israelis would want to build a museum to 'tolerance'... It's just like those kids in Gaza who keep putting themselves under Israeli F-16's bombs! It's all a plot to make Israel look bad I tell you! It's a plot... they're all against us, nobody loves us, we're going out to make some Palestinians eat worms. But, they'll probably blame us for that too rather than accept that Palestinians like worms

07/08/2010 19:10
A personal comment about the stolen gravestones

My Great Aunt is buried on the Mount Of Olives, I haven't been able to locate her grave because somebody stole the tombstone

40 ) David / Canada
08/08/2010 01:51
After expelling at least 800,000 Palestinians between late 1947 and the end of 1948 - including, as I noted above, 60,000 driven out of West Jerusalem in March and early May who were part of the 350,000-400,000 expelled before 15 May 1948 when the "Jewish state" of Israel was declared - Israel bulldozed over 450 of their towns and villages, including churches, mosques and cemeteries. The IDF also desecrated and plundered graves in the Syrian town of Quneitra in the Golan after the 1967 war.

08/08/2010 18:40
40 ) David / Canada
You neglected to mention that the Arab Palestinian leaders had incited their people to leave, to clear the way for invading Arab armies, that were supposed to conquer Israel
After the anticipated conquest, the Arabs were told they would be able to return and move into the abandoned Jewish homes and villages which had been won in war-- A fantasy that never materialized
You also neglected to mention that many of the Arab villages were active in fighting
Arabs in Nazi Army

42 ) David / Canada
08/08/2010 22:14
Ben Jabo
I am astounded that you would trot out the long since debunked canard that "Arab Palestinian leaders incited their people to leave...." (Usually this lie refers to "Arab state leaders.")
Thanks to the CIA and the BBC, we have recordings of all the radio broadcasts at the time and they not only prove that the Arab/Palestinian leaders did not "incite their people to leave," they pleaded with them to stay. There is no excuse for your ignorance. (Your last sentence makes no sense.)

43 ) David / Canada
08/08/2010 22:52
Ben Jabo
The expulsion of Palestinians in 1947 and 1948 was witnessed by Nathan Chofshi, a Jewish Russian immigrant who had arrived in Palestine in 1908: "...[We] old Jewish settlers in Palestine who witnessed the flight [know] how and in what manner we, Jews, forced the Arabs to leave cities and villages...by force of arms;...deceit, lying and false promises. It is enough to cite the cities of Jaffa, Lydda, Ramle, Beersheba, Acre from among numberless others." (Jewish Newsletter, Feb. 9/59)

09/08/2010 03:03
42 ) David / Canada
Who debunked "The Canard", the leaders that incited the arabs to leave in the first place, proof ?

CIA & BBC recordings, where can I see or hear them ?

My last sentence may hurt, but it's quite factual and can be proven
I'll tell you what, send me the links to the alleged CIA & BBS stuff
and in exchange I'll send you my info about the Arab leaders egging on their people to leave, for good measure, I'll give you facts about the arab villages that engaged in fighting

45 ) David / Canada
09/08/2010 19:59
Ben Jabo
(1) Historian/journalist Erskine Childers decided to settle the matter once and for all regarding Israel's assertion that Arab leaders had asked Palestinians to flee their homes in 1948. He conducted an exhaustive examination of the British radio-monitoring records for all of 1948. He discovered that contrary to assertions by Israeli officials, the Arab leaders had not broadcast any evacuation orders to Palestinians, but had in fact implored them to remain in their homes..." cont'd.

46 ) David / Canada
09/08/2010 20:01
Ben Jabo
"..."...there was not a single order or appeal, or suggestion about evacuation from any Arab radio station inside or outside Palestine in 1948. There is repeated monitored record of Arab appeals, even flat orders, to the civilians of Palestine to stay put." (Erskine Childers, "The Other Exodus," Spectator, London, 12 May 1961)

47 ) David / Canada
09/08/2010 20:04
Ben Jabo

Moreover, Childers discovered that "Even Jewish broadcasts (in Hebrew), mentioned such Arab appeals to stay put. Zionist newspapers in Palestine reported the same; none so much as hinted at any Arab evacuation orders."

48 ) David / Canada
09/08/2010 20:07
Ben Jabo
Childer's conclusions were verified by other contributors to the correspondence, including Professor Walid Khalidi, who had studied Harvard's collection of CIA radio monitored recordings of the region's 1948 broadcasts.

49 ) David / Canada
09/08/2010 20:09
Ben Jabo
As Glubb Pasha, commander of the Arab Legion and an eye-witness stated,
common sense reveals the utter absurdity of the Zionist claim that Palestinians left their homes by choice: "The story which Jewish publicity at first persuaded the world to accept, that the Arab refugees left voluntarily, is not true. Voluntary emigrants do not leave their homes with only the clothes they stand in...."

50 ) David / Canada
09/08/2010 20:11
Ben Jabo

"...People who have decided to move do not do so in such a hurry that they lose other members of their family - husband losing sight of his wife, or parents of their children. The fact is that the majority left in panic flight, to escape massacre. They were in fact helped on their way by the occasional massacres - not of very many at a time, but just enough to keep them running." (John Bagot Glubb, A Soldier With the Arabs, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1957)

51 ) David / Canada
09/08/2010 20:15
Ben Jabo
John H. Davis, who served as Commission-General of UNRWA: "An exhaustive examination of the minutes, resolutions, and press releases of the Arab League, of the files of leading Arabic newspapers, of day-to-day monitoring of broadcasts from Arab capitals and secret Arab radio stations, failed to reveal a single reference, direct or indirect, to an order given to the Arabs of Palestine to leave...." (cont'd)

52 ) David / Canada
09/08/2010 20:17
Ben Jabo

"All the evidence is to the contrary; that the Arab authorities continuously exhorted the Palestinian Arabs not to leave the country.... Panic and bewilderment played decisive parts in the flight. But the extent to which the refugees were savagely driven out by the Israelis as part of a deliberate master-plan has been insufficiently recognized." (John H. Davis, The Evasive Peace. London: Murray, 1968)

53 ) David / Canada
09/08/2010 20:21
Ben Jabo

After studying the IDF Intelligence Branch Report dated 30 June 1948, entitled "The Arab Exodus from Palestine in the Period 1 December 1947 to 1 June 1948." Jewish Israeli historian Benny Morris declared that "the Intelligence Branch report...goes out of its way to stress that the [Palestinian] exodus was contrary to the political-strategic desires of both the Arab Higher Committee and the governments of the neighboring Arab states...."

54 ) David / Canada
09/08/2010 20:23
Ben Jabo
"...These, according to the report, struggled against the exodus - threatening, cajoling, and imposing punishments, all to no avail. There was no stemming the panic borne tide." (Benny Morris, "The Causes and Character of the Arab Exodus from Palestine: The Israel Defense Force Intelligence Board Analysis of June 1948,: Middle Easter Studies, Vol. XXII, no. 1, January 1986)

55 ) David / Canada
09/08/2010 20:26
Ben Jabo

To once again quote Nathan Chofsi, who was deeply ashamed of what his fellow Jews did to the Palestinians: "We came and turned the native Arabs into tragic refugees. And still we dare to slander and malign them, to besmirch their name. Instead of being deeply ashamed of what we did and of trying to undo some of the evil we committed...we justify our terrible acts and even attempt to glorify them." (Nathan Chofshi, Jewish Newsletter, February 9, 1959)

56 ) David / Canada
09/08/2010 20:35
Ben Jabo
Enough said. I have no desire to continue this exchange. You lack sufficent accurate knowledge of the subject, i.e, that known to first year students of Middle East history. I suggest you consult documented histories of the region written by accredited and respected historians and cease spewing forth long since debunked Hasbara. As more and more people around the world realize, the truth is easily available and they are seeking it out.

57 ) D.K. / Palestine
10/08/2010 09:41
Israel says these bodies were laid these illegally, who are they to speak? Were they ruling in the 12th century? & all of Israel is built on lies and illegal actions, so who are they to speak. It's so easy for them, They make the law, and their law is discriminatory, so very easy to say it's illegal after they come up with a law! Everything they do is only for their own interest benefiting their own agenda, and in the name of security, & the zionist leaders are since always very open about that!

11/08/2010 22:15
David/Canada our gutless wonder, posted 12 pages then headed for the hills, when he was about to be confronted with facts


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