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Israel blocks Palestinian grandmother from visiting father’s grave

Arabic and Hebrew sign posted in site of former village reads​: 'Ma'alul - Christian cemetery is behind fence. Access is forbidden' [Photo by Adalah]

Israeli authorities are preventing a Palestinian grandmother from visiting her father’s grave in the Christian cemetery of a village destroyed during the Nakba.

Salwa Salem-Copty, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, is forbidden from accessing the cemetery, which is now surrounded by an Israeli military base.

Legal rights centre Adalah has written a letter to senior Israeli political and military officials “demanding that Salem-Copty and other internally-displaced Christian Palestinian residents and their descendants be allowed to visit the graves of family members in Ma’alul”.

Israeli forces expelled Ma’alul’s Palestinian residents in July 1948, and destroyed the entire village except two churches and a mosque. Israel has since prevented the village’s displaced residents from returning.

Read: Preventing the sabotage of Palestinian rights

In addition, “an Israeli military base was built around the village’s Christian cemetery and the displaced residents, whose loved ones are buried in the cemetery, have been barred by Israeli authorities from visiting family graves since 1948.”

According to Adalah, displaced residents from Ma’alul fear graves in the cemetery have been desecrated

“I dream about this grave. I’m begging. I want nothing else but to visit my father’s grave. I want to be buried next to my father,” Salem-Copty told Adalah.

Adalah has demanded Israeli authorities “allow Salem-Copty and other former villagers expelled from Ma’alul to visit and maintain their family graves”, and called on the Interior Ministry and Israeli military “to maintain and protect the cemetery against the threat of vandalism and desecration”.

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