A Palestinian grandmother has won her battle to visit her father’s grave, after decades of being stone-walled by Israeli authorities.
Following legal intervention by Haifa-based rights centre Adalah, 70-year-old Salwa Salem Copty, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, will finally be able to visit the grave of her father in a Christian cemetery surrounded by an Israeli military base.
The base was established on the ruins of Ma’alul, a Palestinian village destroyed by Israeli forces during the Nakba in 1948.
In January 2019, Adalah filed a Supreme Court petition on behalf of Copty and her 93-year-old uncle Subhi Mansour, “demanding the Israeli military permit them to visit the cemetery”.
In response to the petition, “the Israeli State Attorney’s Office has now announced that it will allow Salwa and her uncle to visit the cemetery”, Adalah stated.
According to Adalah, Salwa Salem Copty was born in 1948 several months after her father, Fares Salem, was shot and killed by Israeli troops.
“Israeli forces occupied their home village of Ma’alul in July 1948, expelled its Palestinian residents, and destroyed the entire village with the exception of two churches and a mosque”.
Now, “the Israeli military has decided it will allow Salwa, her uncle, and two other people up to three visits a year to the cemetery”.
“For almost 20 years, the Israeli military refused – with absolutely zero justification – to address Salwa’s requests to exercise her basic constitutional right to visit the grave of her father who was killed just months before she was born”, said Adalah Deputy General Director Attorney Sawsan Zaher.
“The Israeli army will never be able to compensate Salwa for these decades of injustice but we are pleased that, after such a long struggle, she will finally be able to visit her father’s grave”.