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Machsom Watch: Israel uses 3 strategies to erase Palestine religious sites

A view of a Mosque damaged by Israeli settlers in the West Bank on 27 July 2020 [İssam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]
A view of a Mosque in the West Bank on 27 July 2020 [İssam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

Machsom Watch, an Israeli human rights group, has revealed that the Israeli occupation authorities use three strategies to erase Palestinian religious sites, Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported on Friday.

In a lengthy report, the rights group disclosed that many Islamic sites are spread across Israel and the occupied territories, named after prophets and scholars.

The Israeli NGO conveyed that pilgrims used to visit the sites for prayer during the religious holidays or for recovery from illnesses. Sometimes, they visited these places to organise family gatherings.

According to Machsom Watch, since the start of the occupation, Israeli authorities have double standards in dealing with these sites, giving more attention to the sites named after prophets mentioned in the Torah, whether in Israel or the occupied territories.

To erase these sites and their identities, Israeli authorities declare them as part of military zones. The NGO describes these zones as settlements or areas for military training, which Palestinians are prevented from accessing.

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Machsom Watch revealed that the other strategy is adding these sites to nature reserves supervised by the authorities protecting reserves and religious sites.

Machsom Watch asserts that this way, the Islamic and Palestinian holy sites lose their identities because they become unknown through the halt of regular visits.

The third strategy, is ignoring the holy sites which do not have names of prophets mentioned in the Torah, and investing funds only in those that are, claiming they are Jewish sites.

Machsom Watch confirmed that Israeli authorities organise regular visits for Jews to these places, under the pretext of religious pilgrimage.

The NGO gave the examples of Joseph and Rachel’s Tombs in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus.

Meanwhile, regarding holy sites in Area C, Israel prevents their renovation until their collapse.

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The rights group mentioned names of tens of such holy sites, pointing out the Salman Al-Farisi Tomb, which is located on top of Salman Al-Farisi Mountain. This place was given to the Israeli settlement of Yitzhar, which turned it into a nature reserve.

Machsom Watch indicated that extremist Jewish settlers live in this settlement, provoking Palestinians by destroying their trees and preventing them from praying at Salman Al-Farisi Mosque.

Concluding its report, Machsom Watch reported that the settlers who live in this settlement have “criminal tendencies”, once shooting a woman while she was working.

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