Hassidic Protest over Mt. Of Olives Desecration

Dozens of graves in the Gerrer section were vandalized. Massive investment in security cameras was for naught.

Haim Lev, Gil Ronen ,

Mount of Olives desecration
Mount of Olives desecration

Members of the Gur (Gerrer) Hassidic sect will hold a prayer and protest session in the Gerrer section of the Mount of Olives cemetery, following the desecration of dozens of graves by Arab vandals.

The damage and sacrilege were discovered just after the Rosh Hashanah holiday ended, when hassidim  came to pray at the graves of their ancestors there. Many headstones were toppled or broken, and brass lamps and other items of value were stolen.

Police said that vandals also tried to damage and steal security cameras set up at the site. Police opened an investigation.

This is not the first time this section of the cemetery has been desecrated. While the Mount of Olives has been a target of vandals for decades, the destruction has gotten much worse over the past several months.

Among the dozens of vandalized tombs was that of Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Levin ztz”l, a leader of Agudat Yisrael and the son in law of the Imrei Emes ztz”l.

Rabbi Menachem Lubinsky, Chairman of the International Committee for Defense of the Mount of Olives, said Sunday that “at 2:00 a.m. I received a phone call from the house of the Gerrer Admor (Grand Rabbi), which reported to us the horror that took place on the Mount of Olives. We immediately began to look into the matter and even spoke to Government Secretary Avihai Mandelblit about it.

"Understand this: the awful event took place despite the fact that the government invested hundreds of millions of shekels in setting up a network of security cameras in the area.”

"We convened for an emergency session with all of the relevant bodies and we are launching worldwide efforts to end this horror. It is unthinkable that a Jew will not be able to visit the graves of his ancestors in Jerusalem. We are determined to do all that is possible and necessary, and we will demand this in a meeting that we will hold with Prime Minister Netanyahu, who is here in New York.”

A festering sore

Arutz Sheva has been reporting for years on the shameful state of affairs at the Mount of Olives, where Jews visiting their ancestors' graves have become sitting ducks in a never-ending rock-throwing festival by local Arabs, and the graves themselves are vandalized regularly. Activists and police believed that investing funds in security cameras and adding a police station at the site could stop the desecration but it appears that this is not so.

Last year, the Knesset received a grim picture of the situation on the Mount of Olives. The Interior Committee under MK Miri Regev (Likud) was told that graves are desecrated on a regular basis, and visitors often face rock-throwing attacks, stone roadblocks, and other hazards when traveling to the site.

The Knesset discussion also revealed that while a police station has been set up at the site and is technically open 24 hours a day, the reality is that there are only 2 cars patrolling the site until 9:00 pm, and one car during the night. Regev stated that while the station may be technically open, it is not actively patrolling like it should be to prevent more attacks. 

Avraham Lubinsky, director of the Mount of Olives Protection Committee, maintained that the police are underestimating the need for security on the Mount and on the roads leading up to the Mount. MK Menachem Eliezer Moses (United Torah Judaism) added that an Arab high school stands along the road up to the Mount, and that students there frequently initiate rock-throwing attacks, knowing that they won't be caught. 

Hillel Horowitz, director of the Cemetery Council of Jerusalem, insisted that additional police stands should be established on consistently problematic areas of the Mount, that cameras be placed along the walls for 24/7 security monitoring, and that a budget be set to restore the desecrated graves. "We are not just talking about rioting," Horowitz said. "We are talking about attempted murder."