A Palestinian official says Israel seeks to transform the ancient cemetery into a ‘national park' for Jews.
Israeli authorities on Tuesday demolished several graves in occupied East Jerusalem's historical Bab al-Rahmah cemetery east of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, according to a Palestinian official.
"Personnel from the so-called ‘Israeli Antiquities Authority' -- backed by large numbers of Israeli forces -- stormed the historical Bab al-Rahmah cemetery and knocked down eight graves," Mustafa Abu Zahra, head of the committee for the preservation of Islamic cemeteries in Jerusalem, told Anadolu Agency.
"Israel wants to transform the cemetery into a national park for Israeli Jews," he said.
Alive or Dead.. No escape..Israel filled 8 Palestinian tombs w/ sand, & destroyed graves in Occupied Jerusalem cemetery. pic.twitter.com/zB1sgGeXX2— Abbs Winston (@AbbsWinston) November 1, 2016
Bab al-Rahmah is a Muslim cemetery that dates back more than 1,400 years. It is considered one of East Jerusalem's most important Islamic historical sites.
Sheikh Omar al-Qiswani, the Al-Aqsa Mosque's Palestinian director, denounced ongoing Israeli violations against Muslim sites in East Jerusalem.
"Israel claims the graves are situated on land owned by the Israeli Antiquities Authority," al-Qiswani told Anadolu Agency.
"But Israel has no historical -- or legal -- basis on which to claim any right to the cemetery," he said. "The site is an Islamic Waqf [endowment], and will remain so."
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War.
It formally annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as its capital -- a move never recognised by the international community.