June 27: Bulldozing of the Mamilla cemetery

The Mamilla cemetery is an old, beautiful sprawling Muslim graveyard that lies in the center of downtown Jerusalem.  It dates back to the 12th century and many prominent people are buried there.  A few months ago, part of it was demolished, making it a very sensitive issue in municipal politics.  The cemetery is in West Jerusalem, under legal Israeli jurisdiction, but as one of the larger and more significant Muslim cemeteries in the area it is important to Palestinians in the Territories as well as to Israeli Arabs.

Last night, 100 (according to media reports) additional graves were bulldozed into rubble by Municipality workers.

I went to the site this morning to see the damage.  There was a large media presence, with many angry people there.

It would literally be illegal to do the same thing to a Jewish cemetery (Jewish remains are protected under law), but Muslim graveyards do not receive the same protection.

Not all the graves in the cemetery were destroyed – in fact, the vast majority remain standing. But this event is part of a worrying trend of institutionalized disregard for Arab and Muslim history in Jerusalem. The land the cemetery occupies is some of the most valuable in the entire city, and it doesn’t seem so unlikely that the municipality will continue to raze more of the graveyard in order to capitalize on the real estate.

Archeological sites should be protected no matter what culture they belong to.

News stories:
Israel razes Muslim gravestones (Ma’an)
Israel exhumes 100 new tombs in Jerusalem’s historic Ma’man Allah cemetery (Middle East Monitor)
“Israel” Bulldozes a historic cemetery in Jerusalem (Alresalah)

For some reason, there seems to have been zero coverage in the Israeli media.

(20+ more pictures from the cemetery this morning are up in this photoset on Flickr.)

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