Mount of Olives Under Watch

The Mount of Olives cemetery will get 24/7 video surveillance in an attempt to prevent vandalism of Jewish tombs and holy books.

Maayana Miskin,

Mount of Olives
Mount of Olives
Israel news photo: (file)

Minister of Religious Services Yaakov Margi announced Wednesday that surveillance cameras will be installed throughout the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives (Har Hazeitim). The announcement was made in response to a query from MK Menachem Eliezer Moses of United Torah Judaism, who asked what the state plans to do in response to vandalism of the historic site.

The cemetery is located in a primarily Arab neighborhood of Jerusalem. Jews who live in the area often come under attack from hostile local Arabs, and hostile locals are believed to be behind the destruction in the cemetery as well.

The extent of the vandalism was revealed recently when a group of Nadvorna chassidim visited the tomb of one of their movement's leaders, only to discover that the tomb and several nearby graves had been desecrated, the headstones smashed, and holy books burnt nearby.

Cleanup project
Religious services officials led a recently completed cleanup project in which 2,000 tombs were cleaned or repaired, Margi reported. Surveillance cameras will be installed in the near future to prevent future incidents of vandalism, he said.

The Housing Ministry, which has a security network in the area, will assist in providing security for the site, Margi told the Knesset. “I think that this will provide an answer to the problem of vandalism,” he said. “I hope there will not be any more such acts, and if there are, we will of course deal with the issue.”

MK Moses expressed satisfaction with Margi's answer, and congratulated the minister for his fast work. Moses said he would continue to visit the cemetery and ensure that Jews are able to visit the area in safety.