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      Vandals Smash Mt. of Olives Rabbi's Gravestone

      Arabs are suspected of desecrating the Mt. of Olives gravestone of a recently deceased Hassidic rabbi. Security cameras are to be set up.
      By Gil Ronen
      First Publish: 12/3/2009, 5:11 PM / Last Update: 12/3/2009, 5:38 PM

      Israel news photo

      Jews who came to pray Monday at the area reserved for the Lalov Hassidic group on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem found that the gravestone of the Rabbi of Lalov had been smashed by vandals. The gravestone was dedicated recently, after 30 days had passed since the funeral of the rabbi.

      The tombstone was smashed from both sides with heavy hammers and was in danger of collapsing. The people who discovered the vandalism informed the police. 


      The Deputy Minister of Education, Rabbi Meir Porush, came to inspect the damage, as did Chaim Miller of the Movement for Jerusalem and its Residents, who has been working for years to try and improve the situation at the Mount of Olives. Porush immediately contacted Maj.-Gen. Ilan Franco, Jerusalem District Police Commander, and told him that the Jerusalem police “must allocate manpower to find the criminals who carried out this act and in order to allow Jews to visit the Mount of Olives safely.”

      Miller noted that the assumption is that local Arabs carried out the vandalism. “The widespread assumption is that Arabs who live nearby followed the burial ceremony which took place after Yom Kippur, as well as the tombstone dedication, saw the large attendance and understood that a great Jewish leader had been buried there. That was a good enough reason, for them, to smash the tombstone.”

      "This is one out of a never-ending series of occurrences that have been taking place on the Mount of Olives and which I have been warning of for years,” Miller said, who has asked that the site receive “national site” status so that funds are allocated for guards and other security measures.

      Minister of Public Security Yitzchak Aharonovich said Wednesday that the police are aware of the ongoing trouble at the Mount of Olives cemetery. In a reply to a parliamentary query by MK Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh), the minister said that parts of the cemetery are unfenced and border upon Arab neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem.

      Aharonovich said that police carry out frequent checks of suspects at the location and that the Border Police maintain a deterrent presence there. He said that a tender for installation had taken place and the winner, who will install cameras and a 24-hr. security control center, has already been selected.