Israeli Town to Build Its Cemetery in the West Bank, Requiring Armed Security at Funerals

The cemetery of Mevasseret Zion will be constructed between the Green Line and the separation barrier and will have a three meter high fence, surveillance cameras and armed guards at every burial

Mevasseret Zion, last year.
Emil Salman

The Mevasseret Zion Local Council is going ahead with plans to build a cemetery for its residents across the Green Line, even though the army is making this conditional on having armed civilian security guards at every funeral to be held there.

The cemetery is expected to also serve settlements in the Binyamin Regional Council, not just Mevasseret residents.

Two weeks ago the Mevasseret council head, Yoram Shimon, announced his plan to build a cemetery north of the community, in the area between Mevasseret and the separation barrier. This area is beyond the Green Line, in an section that officially belongs to the Binyamin Regional Council. To this end, Shimon met with the heads of the regional council, as well as army officers. Last week Shimon brought the plan to a vote in the local council, which approved it.

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However, a document obtained by Haaretz indicates that building a cemetery in the designated area would turn every funeral into a security event.

According to a summary of a meeting between Shimon and the head of an IDF body that manages the separation barrier area, along with Binyamin Regional Council chairman Yisrael Gantz and other officials, the army explained, “The significance of the building ban and the security importance of restricting building on both sides of the security fence.”

Nevertheless, the document states that, “It is possible to examine the request positively in the future,” but this was subject to several conditions the army posed. First of all, the area must be properly zoned. In addition, the army insists that the cemetery be surrounded by a metal fence three meters high. The local council also must “Install security cameras with both night and day surveillance capability,” and, “The council must commit to stationing armed civilian security guards at every funeral from beginning to end as a condition for holding it.”

The document also states that the cemetery is to serve the Binyamin Region settlements as well as Mevasseret residents. Although Mevasseret is relatively close to these settlements, burial in Mevasseret will require a long journey to get around the separation barrier, since there is no passage through the barrier near Mevasseret.

Two years ago it was reported that the Ma’aleh Adumim municipality had stopped allowing burials of Binyamin Regional Council residents in its cemetery. Neither the Mevasseret Zion Local Council nor the Binyamin Regional Council responded to this report.