A new racist Israeli crime in Jerusalem District

A new racist Israeli crime in Jerusalem District

Israeli occupation authorities committed yet another crime in the first week of December 2005 when Israeli bulldozers, accompanied by dozens of soldiers, started to destroy hundreds of Muslim graves under the pretext of establishing the 'Museum of Human Tolerance' !!! in Jerusalem atop what has remained of the Muslim cemetery of 'Ma�man Allah.' It is a crime against the dead and their dignity, yet it comes as no surprise as it is only natural for those who do not honor the dignity of the living and kills thousands of innocent men, women and children do not, in turn, honor and preserve the dignity of the dead. See Photo 1 & Photo 2


Photo 1: Some of the remaining graves in Ma�man Allah cemetery
before the latest diggings,


Photo 2: Some of the remaining graves in Maâ: Some of the remaining graves in Maâ��man Allah cemetery
before the latest diggings,


Photo courtesy of LRC



The Cemetery of 'Ma�man Allah:

The Cemetery of Ma�man Allah (which some call it �Mamila�) is located 1 kilometers away from the Old City of Jerusalem. It is the largest Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem with an estimated area of 200 dunums. That is despite the fact that, according to the Palestinian Land Registration (Taboo) of March 22nd, 1938, the total area of the cemetery was 134,560 dunums. See Photo 3



Photo 3: Location of Maâ: Location of Maâ��man Allah cemetery
in Jerusalem),Photo prepared of LRC. .


The Cemetery is History Old:

The Cemetery is as old as the history of the city. The Palestinian historian, Aref Al Aref, author of 'Al Mofassal in the History of Jerusalem' identifies the cemetery as �the oldest, largest and most famous cemetery in Jerusalem. Islamic Awqaf Department( Islamic Trust) indicates that the Cemetery was established 1400 years ago. In it, King Solomon was anointed as king in 950 BC, Sinchareb, the Assyrian king of Babylon, camped when he besieged Jerusalem in 710 BC and in it the Persians threw the corps of those they killed when they occupied the city in 614 BC. Moreover, a large number of the graves in the cemetery belong to the friends of the Prophet Mohammed and Al Mujahideen (Muslim fighters) who died during the Islamic conquest in 636 AD and in it Salah Al Dien Al Ayyoubi camped during his campaign to reclaim the city from the hands of the crusaders in 1087 AD.'


A number of historians tend to believe that Muslim started to burry their dead in the cemetery even before the crusaders era and that when the crusaders occupied the city and killed 70,000 of its Christian and Muslim residents they ordered the remaining residents to burry their dead in the cemetery. At that point in time, the crusaders found graveyards and tunnels in which they placed the skulls of the Muslims corps. In general, the cemetery has more that 70,000 corps of the friends of the Prophet Mohammed, including Muslim scientists and martyrsthe most famous of whom were  Prince Issa Mohammad Al Attari Al Shafiâ��i (died on 585 Hegira and considered to be one of the main advisors of Salah Al Dien), Sheikh Shihab Al Dien Abu Al Abbas (an accomplished scientist who died in 728 Hegira), Ahmad Ibn Hamed Al Ansari Al Maqdisi (an established judge who refused the position of Jerusalem Judge fearing Judgment Day and who died in 854 Hegira), Sheikh Al Islam Mohammad Ibn Jamal Al Dien Al Dieri Ibn Issa Al Hanafi (the Supreme Judge of Jerusalem who was born in Nablus and lived in Jerusalem for more than 50 years and died in it in 827 Hegira) among other scientists and notables.


During the late days of the Ottoman Empire (in 1847 to be exact) the cemetery was encircled with a 2-meter high wall while Muslims kept on burying their dead until 1948 despite the fact that the Muslim High Council (who took care of the affairs of the cemetery) banned burying any more in it in 1929 due to over crowding. See Photo 4



Photo 4: An old Palestinian house inside Ma�man Allah
cemetery in Jerusalem
, Photo courtesy of



The cemetery was violated on a number of occasions at the beginning of the thirties of the last century which prompted the Council to draw a Master Plan for it which divided it into four sections; part was to be used for housing purposes, commercial purposes, a public park in addition to the cemetery. A large portion of the Plan was executed in the mid sixties of the last century.


An Attempt to Erase the True Identity of Jerusalem:

Zionist organizations occupied the western section of Jerusalem in 1948 including the Cemetery. After the declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel, it instituted a 'law' according to which all lands and estates belonging to the Islamic Waqf (including cemeteries, mosques and buildings) are considered to be 'Absentee Properties' that are to be run by 'Absentee Properties Guardian' run by the Department of Israel State Lands. Ever since then Israel started at a feverish rate to change the character of the Cemetery until only about 5% of its original graves has left in an area that is estimated to be only 9.5% of its original size (about 19 dunums).    


In the year 1967 Israeli authorities transformed a large portion of the Cemetery to a public park called �The Independence Park� which resulted in the removal of a large number of graves and the remaining bones in them. In 1985 the Israeli Ministry of Transport converted a large portion of the land of the Cemetery into a parking lot and in January 15th, 2000 the Israeli Ministry of Electricity conducted a series of diggings on which the Islamic Waqf legally objected. It is also worth noting that the main headquarter of the Israeli Ministry of Industry and Commerce is established upon the lands of the Cemetery.


In the year 1992 the affairs of the Cemetery were transformed from the authority of the 'Absentee Properties Guardian' to the control of the Jerusalem Municipality (source: an article in Haaretz newspaper by Jonathan Leis) whose chiefs (starting with Teddy Kolic and ending with Ehud Olmert) were, and still are, professional masters in erasing the Islamic identity of the Cemetery and the city in general. The attempts to erase the Cemetery completely continued in 2002 when Israeli relevant authorities made public its intention to establish a court compound using the remaining lands of the Cemetery in an attempt to erase it completely.


On the first week of December 2005, Israeli occupation authorities renewed its effort to violate the sanctity of the dead in the Cemetery when Israeli bulldozers accompanied with 140 workers racked havoc in the graves as to clear the area to execute a joint Israeli-American project calling for the establishment of two major buildings; one is called 'The Center for Human Dignity' while the other is called 'Museum of Tolerance' !!. Two companies are supposed to execute the $200-million project on an area of 21-dunum; The Simon Wiesenthal Center and another company known only as SWC. The Museum's centre stone was laid down in the year 2004 in a big ceremony which was attended by the current Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert along with California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. See Photo 5



See Photo 5: Three photos showing the digging of Muslim
graves in Ma�man Allah cemetery and the transferring of skeletons out
of the place
), Photos courtesy of Al Hayyat Al Jadida Newspaper.



The two companies started the construction process by raising the wall surrounding the cemetery an additional 2 meters making it 4 meters high as to hide their crimes against the dead. As if that wasn�t enough, the two companies erected two big tents to continue their sins under the protection of tens of Israeli soldiers distributed throughout the cemetery. According to an article that appeared in Haaretz on February 8th, 2006, there are about 150 Jewish youth from both sexes digging graves in the site. Other testimonies (including those of Arab Members of the Knesset and journalists) indicate that more than 150 graves were dug up under the watchful eyes of the Israeli Antiques Authority. One of the workers has reportedly said that 'on Sunday we found what seems to be a bone skeleton. This is not unusual. We practically find a new skeleton every day.'


In anticipation of any possible media frenzy about the issue of digging up the skeletons, the contractors placed a large number of surveillance cameras throughout the digging site as to spot any unwanted intruders. Moreover, workers in the site were instructed to surround the site with non-transparent plastic as one of the workers said that the contractors told them that 'If they knew about the skeletons, the whole project can come to a complete halt.' See Photo 6




Photo 6: An Israeli security guard pushing back a camera
man at the site of Ma'man Allah cemetery
Photo courtesy of LRC.



In January, 2006 Israeli newspapers reported the intent of the Israeli government to build the �Tolerance Museum� in the city of Jerusalem atop the remaining lands of Ma�man Allah cemetery which was a clear indication of Israel�s determination to finish off the remaining of this centuries old cemetery. The Israeli High Court of Justice is dragging its feet in responding to the objection filed by Al Alqsa Society, represented by its lawyer Mr. Ahmad Suleiman, against the SWC Company, the Simon Weisenthal Center of Los Angeles, California, the Jerusalem Municipality in addition to the Israel Land Authority. The objection urged the Court to issue an injunction to stop work on the site of the cemetery and to stop the removal of any debris from it to the outside. The presented objection included all required and necessary documents, pictures and maps. Given the fact that the Court is stalling on this issue, it means that the Court is an accomplice in this crime as it gives more time for the perpetrators of the crime to cover their tracks through the removal of the skeletons without catching the attention of anybody. See Photo 7



Photo 7: Israeli digging and construction works are going on inside
Ma�man Allah cemetery
, Photo courtesy of



On February 2nd, 2006 a number of relatives of the dead buried in the cemetery including Mr. Mohammad Khair Al Dien Al Dajani, Mr. Mohammad Zaki Nuseiba, Mr. Mohammad Hamdi Bader Zein among others filed an appeal to the Muslim Court in West Jerusalem against all actions taking place in the said cemetery. Moreover, the human rights organization Karama filed, through its manager Mr. Durgham Seif, an appeal to the Israeli High Court of Justice on February 5th, 2006. His appeal was rejected and the case was postponed until February 19th, 2006.


On February 8th, 2006 the contractors resumed work of digging up the graves in the cemetery to build the 'Museum of Tolerance'!!

A number of Muslim officials (such as Jerusalemâ��s Mufti, Supreme Judge and the Director of Al Awqaf) have demanded to stop the aggression against the cemetery. A fatwa was also issued in which digging the graves was considered to be Haram (sinful) and made it prohibitable for Muslims to participate in such actions. They also called upon concerned parties and human rights organizations to stand up to this vicious attack against the dead and to pressure Israeli relevant authorities to stop this project.    


What Tolerance ??

The directors of the project claim that one of the main goals of the 'Tolerance Museum' is to provide a space for deeper understanding between the different religions in an effort to raise tolerance amongst its members. We just have to inquire about the type of sustainable tolerance which starts by offending the religious feelings of the followers of a major religion and by desecrating the last resting place of their beloved dead ones. Also, occupation does not honor and respect the dignity of the living let alone the dead, so how would it be conceivable that the same entity that kills and maims the innocent builds 'The Center for Human Dignity.' ?


The sick and racist mentality of the Israeli occupation which allows those who follow its teachings to desecrate all that is valuable to others is the same mentality that the Israeli historian Miron Benvensti � the ex-deputy head of Jerusalem Municipality- refers to in his article which appeared in Haaretz on September 9th, 2005. In this article Mr. Benvensti indicated that:


'All that (mentioned before) and we did not even begin to speak about the Muslim graves which magically became holy sites for the Jews. Examples include the grave of Dan which replaced the grave site of Sheikh Ghareeb. Another example is the grave of Al Sitt Sakina in Tibries which was magically transformed to Rachel�s Tomb, the wife of Rabbi Akiva. Less than 40 Islamic grave yards is left out of a total of 150 which existed in the deserted Arab villages. The remaining grave yards are neglected and targeted by confiscations and violations. The case here is that of the racist Zionist mentality which carried out all these transformations which is the same mentality that digs under Al Aqsa Mosque and does not hesitate to unearth the graves in Ma�man Allah cemetery. The demolishing of Islamic cemeteries did not come as a result of developmental needs and pressures. It is ethnic cleansing for the dead because their presence is the only proof that the land belongs to Al Aqsa �meaning to Palestinians'.


It is the same racist Israeli institute (the Municipality of occupied Jerusalem) that canceled a 25 year old road that links between the Gethsemane Garden in Kidron valley and Ras Almud on mount olives under the pretext that the road goes through a Jewish cemetery. Yet, the matter did not stop here; this same institution was the one that plowed the Islamic cemetery of Bab Al Rahma (which is located close to the eastern wall of the Old City of Jerusalem) with a depth of 10 meters as to use it for the creation of a by-pass, settlers-only road connecting them to the Jewish quarters inside the old city through the Dung Gate and to the Jewish residences in the village of Silwan. See Photo 8



Photo 8: An Israeli guard dismissing two Palestinian protesters
away from digging sites, Photo courtesy of LRC.  
, Photo courtesy of LRC.  



The Land Research Center (LRC) looks upon this issue as part of the racist Israeli practices against whatever is Palestinian. It also looks upon it as part of a deliberate ethnic cleansing campaign waged against all that is Palestinian including the dead. As such, LRC demand the following:

  • That all countries that signed the conventions and treaties about human rights to step in, honor its signature and pressure Israel to abide by the articles of these conventions.

  • That the International Community, the UN Commission on Human Rights, UNISCO and others must put an end to the violations committed by Israel against whatever is holy and sacred for the Palestinians such as mosques, cemeteries, antiquities, and the like. Israel must be pressured to stop plowing the Muslim cemetery of Maâ��man Allah and unearthing its long-dead residents.  




Prepared by
The Land Research Center

Categories: Israeli Violations