Update: The Nature and Parks Authority has resumed fencing the Muslim cemetery Bab el-Rahmeh, east of Temple Mount
This morning (Wednesday, September 2) inspectors of the INPA (Nature and Parks Authority), accompanied by security personnel, continue fencing the cemetery Bab al-Rahmeh, adjacent to the Temple Mount / Haram al-Sharif. These works continue the fencing that began on August 16 of this year. We understand these works as continuing the trend to limit the non-Jewish presence around the holy compound, and part of a long struggle between settlers and Palestinians over control of the eastern wall of the esplanade. Emek Shaveh contacted the legal office of the INPA demanding the work cease.
The cemetery Bab al-Rahmeh runs along the eastern side of the Haram al-Sharif (no 13 in the attached map). It is the second most important Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem, after Mamilla, and unlike the latter it is still active. The struggle over the character and control of the cemetery is over a decade old. The Public Committee against the Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount comprises archaeologists, scholars and lawyers. In 2005, the Committee petitioned the High Court against the State of Israel for its failure to enforce the ban on burials in the southern part of the cemetery. The claim is that the area is a proclaimed antiquities site that is part of the Jerusalem Walls National Park, and that digging and burial are damaging to the antiquities.
While Bab al-Rahmeh cemetery is included in the Jerusalem Walls National Park, the Christian and Jewish cemeteries on the Mount of Olives are not. The Muslim cemetery’s inclusion within the park’s borders now enables the INPA to operate in the cemetery under the National Parks Act, to fence it in, restrict access to it, and to strive to stop burial there. All this is done in the claim of protecting ancient remains.
The INPA’s works were done in the north section of the cemetery, across the blocked Golden Gate. The INPA erected a fence that prevents further burial to the east, aiming to prevent the expansion of the cemetery which would hurt the national park. In our opinion, this is another step designed to prevent Muslim presence around the walls of the Temple Mount / Haram al-Sharif.
In response to the works today, Emek Shaveh contacted the legal department of the INPA, asking whether the work is coordinated with the Israel Antiquities Authority. If not, the concern is that the INPA itself is harming the antiques. The works likewise breach the delicate status quo between the Israeli authorities and Palestinians regarding the perimeter around the Temple Mount / Haram al-Sharif.
For more information about the cemetery of Bab al-Rahmeh click here.
INPA works today
Back to top