ACTNews, JERUSALEM – Israeli authorities razed and demolished part of a Palestinian cemetery in occupied East Jerusalem over the weekend, exposing human bones buried in a section where Jordanian soldiers killed during the 1967 war were laid to rest.
The move, part of Israeli plans to build a biblical-themed park over Al-Yusufiyah Cemetery, has provoked Palestinians and led to a confrontation with Israeli military police and staff from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.
On Sunday (10/10/2021), Israeli forces dispersed a Palestinian sit-in protest near the cemetery, firing stun grenades, and skunk water cannons, using batons, and shoving the protestors.
The Palestinian Authority's Jerusalem mayor described the partial demolition of Al-Yusufiyah as "an ugly crime”.
Dozens of Jordanian soldiers who fought to defend the Old City of Jerusalem against the Israeli occupation in the 1967 Middle East war were hurriedly buried in Al-Yusufiyah Cemetery by Palestinian residents following the ensuing ceasefire. Jordan lost some 587 soldiers and officers in various cities and towns in the West Bank, which it governed until June 1967.
This isn't the first time either. Israel has several times destroyed important or historic sites for the sake of their development. In 2016, Israeli authorities destroyed several tombs in a Palestinian Muslim cemetery at a historical site in East Jerusalem.
Israeli forces demolishing the site, which is over 1,400 years old and located just east of the revered Al-Aqsa Mosque, were reportedly personnel from the Israeli Nature Authority. A Palestinian official claimed the authorities intended to transform the area into a national park.
“Personnel from the so-called ‘ Israeli Nature Authority ’ – backed by large numbers of Israeli forces – stormed the historical Bab al-Rahmeh cemetery and knocked down eight graves,” Mustafa Abu Zahra, head of the Committee for the Preservation of Islamic Cemeteries in Jerusalem, told Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency. "Israel wants to transform the cemetery into a national park for Israeli Jews," he added.