Israeli Militants Destroying Palestinian Graves To Make Room For National Park

Several videos have gone viral of Al-Yusufiye Cemetery being raided by Israeli forces who are planning on utilizing the space by building a Jewish national park by 2022. Palestinian families are filmed clinging to the tombstones of their family members as Israeli militants beat and forcibly remove them from the area.

A video of Ola Nababta, a Palestinian woman clinging to the her son’s grave as Israeli militants excavated the area around her, received a lot of attention on platforms like Twitter and Instagram. When interviewed she declared, “Israel is chasing Jerusalemites, alive and dead, to erase their presence in their city, and to control and Judaise the city,” and went on to say: “over my dead body will they dig up my son’s grave.”

The project is being carried out as a part of the Israeli agenda to destroy Islamic sites in Jerusalem. Israelis have been carrying out this plan for years. For instance, parts of the Ma’man Allah Cemetery was destroyed, renamed ‘Mamilla’ and is now a public park and museum. Only a few broken tombstones remain in the area.

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority reported to have found human remains during the construction of the national park. As a result, Palestinians organized protests and increased their presence around the area of the graveyard as a way to defend the graves. However, Israeli militants have aggressively combatted their efforts through the extensive use of tear gas and stun grenades to remove people from the site. Due to this clash, as of October 31st, a total of seven Palestinians have been arrested and three have been wounded. 18 year old Omar Rashadeh said, “Occupation forces assaulted me with heavy beating during my arrest while I was present to protect my grandfather’s grave.”

The graveyard is often referred to as ‘the cemetery of martyrs,’ as it’s dedicated to the Palestinians who died fighting Israeli forces in 1976. Over the last few decades, Israeli forces have demolished a few of the graves, demolished the cemetery’s stairway and fence, banned maintenance of the area and prevented the digging of new graves. 

The actions of the Israelis are a direct violation of international law since the Geneva Convention states that parties of an armed conflict are required to bury the deceased in an honourable way. Yet similar to most of the events taking place in Palestine, this issue has not made it to the headlines or front pages of big media networks such as BBC or CNN. Al-Jazeera has been providing most of the information, shedding light on the stories of people like Ola Nababta, who are suffering due to the Israeli militants. Although coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict has decreased over the last few months, individuals should continue to spread the truth coming from reliable news networks about the tragic situation. Additionally, people around the world should make an effort and join the mailing list to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights as a way to keep themselves informed.