AMMAN: The Jerusalem District Court issued a temporary restraining order against the city’s Israeli-run municipality on Thursday, forcing the municipality to cease its conversion of the waqf-owned Al-Yousefieh cemetery into a park.
In a press statement issued on Wednesday, the Jordanian Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson, Dhaifallah Fayez, reiterated Jordan’s “rejection and condemnation of the excavations and leveling works carried out by the Israeli authorities at the cemetery’s fence and stairs.” Jordan described the action as “desecration of graves” and called on the Israelis to immediately stop the operation.
Wasfi Kailani, senior official on Jerusalem Affairs and director of the Hashemite Fund for the Restoration of Al-Aqsa Mosque, told Arab News, “The case is important because it sheds a light on the continued acts of desecration against a cemetery that is still being used these days by Jerusalem’s Muslims. This is a documented waqf property and the cemetery — which is named after the son of Salah Eddine, Yusef bin Ayoub — is sacred to Muslims around the world, especially for Jordan and the Arab Legion (the former Jordanian army).”
Kailani said that official complaints had been filed with the Israeli government and UNESCO in 2014 and 2016. ”We have known for some time that Israel had its eyes on this land near the wall adjacent to Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Lion’s Gate,” he said, adding that those complaints had included “documentation of Israeli authorities pouring concrete below and over existing graves in order to stop Muslims (burying) their dead at this location.”
The municipality’s plans for the park reportedly include a memorial erected by Jerusalemites with the approval of former Israeli mayor Teddy Kosleck to honor members of the Jordanian army who were killed in the 1967 war. Kailani claimed that would cause emotional hurt and damage to the families of the dead.
“Imagine the reaction of families of these brave Jordanian soldiers who are buried at the site as they see kids playing and dancing on the graves of their deceased martyrs,” he said.
Palestinian lawyers Muhaad Jabara and Hamzeh Quteieh told Arab News that the court’s decision means that the municipality’s actions were illegal.