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Israeli court rejects appeal against destruction of historic Muslim cemetery

February 17, 2014 at 1:49 am

The Israeli Supreme Court has rejected an appeal filed by Al-Aqsa Foundation for Religious Endowment and Heritage against the destruction of Zarnuka village cemetery. The village, near Ramle, was ethnically cleansed of its Palestinian population in 1948 during the catastrophe (Nakba) of the founding of the state of Israel. The town council of the Jewish town of Rehovot wants to build a road, apartments and a park in place of the old cemetery.

In a press statement made available to Quds Press, Al-Aqsa Foundation described the Supreme Court’s decision as “biased”, making it a tool of the desecration of the remains of dead Muslims and the obliteration of their graves. The Foundation also accused the court of riding roughshod over fundamental religious beliefs and feelings. It had demanded that the work at the cemetery be halted and an alternative site found for the buildings and park.

Speaking in court on behalf of Al-Aqsa Foundation, lawyer Mohammed Suleiman pointed out that international conventions cover respect for and the preservation of human remains, regardless of their race or religion. The mayor of Rehovot, said Mr. Suleiman, ignored all of that and has continued to violate Muslim graves in Zarnuka. He used a map dating from the British Mandate period to prove that the site chosen by Rehovot Council has been a cemetery for a very long time.

Commenting on the Supreme Court’s decision, the lawyer said that he was not surprised: “The judiciary’s handling of such cases relating to Islamic religious sites is often below the required level, so we did not expect too much from the judge and the court.” He stressed that Al-Aqsa Foundation will not hesitate to struggle in defence of Zarnuka cemetery.