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Illegal Mosque Next to Jewish Holy Graveyard

Illegal construction of a mosque continues just feet from an ancient Jerusalem graveyard.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 10/4/2011, 5:13 PM

Illegal Mount of Olives mosque
Illegal Mount of Olives mosque
Aryeh King

Illegal construction continues at a Jerusalem mosque immediately adjacent to an ancient and holy Jewish graveyard, Jerusalem activists have reported. Workers continue to expand the mosque on the Mount of Olives despite official orders ruling that they must stop.

The illegal extension will be located just feet from the graves of revered Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook and former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

Senior city officials recently pledged to put a stop to the illegal building, but activists say work continued over the Rosh Hashanah holiday. The latest work included uprooting a stretch of sidewalk, and the destruction of some Jewish tombs recently restored after they were vandalized months earlier.

Veteran Jerusalem activist Aryeh King visited the scene and took pictures showing new work and new construction materials that had been brought in. Also brought in were Arab laborers from Judea and Samaria, who lacked work permits, King said.

“We are facing a nightmare that will all but deny Jews access to graves on the holiest and oldest Jewish cemetery in the world,” said Avrohom Lubinsky of the Committee for the Preservation of the Mount of Olives. He accused city officials of failing to enforce stop work orders.

Jeff Daube, head of the Israel office of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), termed the ongoing problem “an outrage.”

“We are so concerned about the legal status of three buildings in Migron and will make every effort to tear those down, and in the meantime the Arabs are permitted to continue to build illegally with impunity right next to what, outside the Maarat Hamachpelah [Tomb of the Patriarchs – ed.], is the holiest graveyard in Jewish history,” he told Arutz Sheva.