Police Clash With Jaffa Protests Amid Ongoing Dispute Over Construction on Muslim Burial Ground

Last week, Israel’s top court issued an interim order to halt construction on the site of the 18th century cemetery

Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg
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A protest against the demolition of a Muslim burial ground, Jaffa, June 26, 2020
A protest against the demolition of a Muslim burial ground, Jaffa, June 26, 2020Credit: Moti Milrod
Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg

Police on Friday used flash grenades against hundreds of protesters in Jaffa, demonstrating against the construction of a homeless shelter atop a Muslim cemetery that has inflamed tensions between the Tel Aviv municipality and its Muslim residents.

Last week, Israel’s Supreme Court issued an interim order to halt construction on the site of the Al-Isaaf cemetery, which dates back to the 18th century, granting an appeal by the Jaffa Islamic Council against a Tel Aviv District Court ruling last month.

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Works by the Tel Aviv municipality were ordered to stop until another hearing is held.

Protests against the construction have continued intermittently over the past months, with many resulting in violence and arrests. The last such protest near the end of July saw four protesters arrested, according to police.

Police threw dozens of flash grenades toward protesters and used water cannons in an attempt to clear the area. Meanwhile, protesters threw stones and other objects as well as setting off fireworks toward police.

In early July, a Tel Aviv court rejected an appeal to halt the city’s construction on the site.

Tarek Ashkar, director of the Islamic Council, told Haaretz at the time of the ruling that it was based on technicalities and “legal acrobatics” and that it was an example of the legal system functioning as part of a discriminatory establishment. 

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