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Jerusalem: Foundation says hundreds of tombstones disinterred


August 10, 2010 - Israeli bulldozers entered the Mamilla (Ma'man Allah) cemetery in West Jerusalem on Monday night, and began taking down headstones from Muslim graves, a statement from the Jerusalem-based Al-Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Heritage said. The destruction of graves was the third in just over a week, with Israeli officials telling Ma'an that initially, graves were destroyed because they were "built illegally with the aim to take over the plot."...


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Jerusalem: Foundation says hundreds of tombstones disinterred

Ma'an news

August 10, 2010

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli bulldozers entered the Mamilla (Ma'man Allah) cemetery in West Jerusalem on Monday night, and began taking down headstones from Muslim graves, a statement from the Jerusalem-based Al-Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Heritage said.

The destruction of graves was the third in just over a week, with Israeli officials telling Ma'an that initially, graves were destroyed because they were "built illegally with the aim to take over the plot."

Officials with the foundation, who have been observing the area closely following incidents of destruction at the site, said they witnessed a heavy police presence in the area, and called several Arab and international news outlets to cover the event.

Demolitions continued until Tuesday morning, a statement issued by the foundation said, adding that journalists who arrived to document the incident were assaulted by police.

Hundreds of tombstones were taken down, the report said, the largest destruction since 2009.

Waqf officials, charged with overseeing Muslim religious sites in Jerusalem, could not confirm how many grave stones were taken down, but said there was evidence of bulldozer activity in the area. Officials said surveyors with maps of the original layout of the area would be dispatched to count how many had been destroyed.

The religious endowment department said it would ensure that officials from the Waqf were present overnight in the coming days to ensure the safety of the grave sites.

The first reports of demolitions came on Wednesday, when at least 15 tombstones and structures were torn apart or dismantled. The incident was the first reported since 2009, when over 1,500 tombstones were disinterred to make way for a controversial Museum of Tolerance. The foundation quickly denounced the move, describing it as a "heinous crime."

Most of the graves are unrecognizable 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."





:: Article nr. 68722 sent on 11-aug-2010 02:00 ECT

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