Hundreds took to the streets of Jaffa on Tuesday and Wednesday, June 9-10, to protest municipal plans to build a homeless shelter over an historic Muslim cemetery in the city. The communist daily Al-Ittihad reported that violence started when police blocked the marchers and tried to disperse them with force.
The dispute is over a burial site, known in Arabic as Maqbarat al-Is’aaf. When bulldozers last year demolished the building there, the bones of at least 30 persons were discovered to have been buried beneath the floor of the structure. The Antiquities Authority determined that the cemetery contained bones from the Ottoman period all the way back to the Hellenistic period (late fourth to mid-first centuries BCE).
Upon this discovery, the local Islamic Council erected a tombstone over each of the graves. “The Muslim community in Jaffa in general, like all of the city’s residents, have no problem with the homeless project, and it’s appropriate to find a physical location for it, but not over a Muslim cemetery,” Tel Aviv Hadash city council member Att. Amir Badran told Al-Ittihad.