A Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset, Jamal Zahalka MK, has warned the Israeli authorities about their plans to tamper with a cemetery in Balad al-Sheikh near the city of Haifa. The cemetery contains the tomb of the historic leader of the Palestinian resistance against the British, Izzedine al-Qassam.
In a press statement, Mr. Zahalka said that he had sent letters to the Israeli Prime Minister, the Minister of Religious Affairs and the Minister for Transportation on this matter. The letters called for "an immediate halt to all excavation operations in the cemetery which constitutes a dangerous provocation to the religious, national and humanitarian sentiments of the Palestinian people as a whole."
Zahalka warned that any attempts to tamper with the graves, particularly that of Sheikh Izzedine al-Qassam, "will meet with a strong reaction; the Palestinian people will not stand for the violation of either the cemetery's sanctity or the grave of the martyred Sheikh".
According to the MK, tampering with mosques, graves and holy places in Palestinian towns and villages "has been a constant feature of Israel's approach over the past few decades". Israel, he added, has attempted to do this in secrecy, "and it is our duty to expose and confront this dangerous violation against Islamic and Christian places in the country".
The MK's statement was released after Al-Aqsa Foundation for Heritage and Endowments revealed that a Jewish company has been contracted by the Israeli Ministry of Transportation to begin the extension of a sewer line inside the cemetery in Balad al-Sheikh. It is thought that this is in preparation for the extension of a railway line which passes nearby.