Jerusalem: Around 300 Muslim gravestones
destroyed by Israeli bulldozers in a Jerusalem cemetery
earlier this week were "fake" and set up in a bid to snatch
government land, the city charged on Thursday.
The allegation was flatly denied by the Islamic Movement
which earlier this week accused the municipality of razing
recently renovated Muslim graves in a centuries-old cemetery
in a large park in mostly Jewish west Jerusalem.
In its first official response to the claims, the
Jerusalem city council today acknowledged it had removed some
300 tombstones, but said they were not erected over any human
"The municipality and the (Israel Lands) Authority
destroyed around 300 dummy gravestones which were set up
illegally in Independence Park on public land.
"The court approved the removal of all the dummy
gravestones which were laid in the last seven months," the
municipality said in a written statement sent to AFP.
"This is a fraudulent set up, one of the biggest in
recent years, whose aim is to illegally take over state land."
Underneath the tombstones excavators found only "plastic
bottles, cigarette packets and parts of a sprinkler system,"
the statement said. It accused "Islamic elements" of trying to
pull off a huge scam.
But the Islamic Movement completely denied the graves
were fake, saying all of them contained bodies.
"Around 300 renovated tombs have been destroyed by the
municipality over the last four days," said Mahmud Abu Atta, a
spokesman for the Al-Aqsa Foundation which is linked to the