A member of Fatah's Revolutionary Council has warned of Israeli plans to exhume 1,000 bodies from the historic Ma'man Allah Cemetery in occupied Jerusalem. In a press release on Monday, Dmitri Dalyani said that digging and excavation works in the cemetery "continue unabated with the consent of all Israeli authorities concerned, principally the Antiquities Department and the Jerusalem Municipality."
This was confirmed by the Aqsa Foundation for Endowments and Heritage, which added that in recent days "unusual" activities have taken place in a fenced-off area of the cemetery earmarked by the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre to build the so-called "Museum of Tolerance". The Foundation condemned the lack of respect for the cemetery by the Israeli authorities.
According to reports from representatives of the Aqsa Foundation who have visited the site, digging equipment and a large number of workers, including engineers, have entered the site, which has been cordoned off with extremely high fences and barbed wire. The actual excavation site has been covered over and security patrols have been stepped up significantly.
Dalyani pointed out that there was a "suspicious media blackout surrounding the exhumations which echoes the Israeli Antiquities Department's refusal to make any announcements of discoveries made since the operation began despite the obvious existence of vast numbers of bodies and artefacts in the historic cemetery." He stressed that "the desecration of the graves, particularly in the Ma'man Allah Cemetery, which is of religious and historic importance, has to be seen in the context of Israel's historic and cultural falsehoods since its establishment; now Israel's ethnic cleansing of Palestinians extends to the removal of the dead."
However, Dalyani pointed out, what Israel is doing is actually an extension of what the British mandate authorities started to do in 1933, with its own series of violations against the Ma'man Allah Cemetery. Thousands of graves containing the remains of revered companions of Prophet Muhammad, scholars and martyrs, as well as Jerusalemite symbols attesting to the Arab history of Jerusalem have been exhumed and destroyed over the intervening years.