World Bulletin / News Desk
"Personnel from the so-called ‘Israeli Nature Authority’ -- backed by large numbers of Israeli forces -- stormed the historical Bab al-Rahmeh cemetery and knocked down eight graves," Mustafa Abu Zahra, head of the committee for the preservation of Islamic cemeteries in Jerusalem, said.
"Israel wants to transform the cemetery into a national park for Israeli Jews," he said.
Bab al-Rahmeh is a Muslim cemetery that dates back more than 1,400 years. It is considered one of East Jerusalem's most important Islamic historical sites.
Sheikh Omar al-Qiswani, the Al-Aqsa Mosque's Palestinian director, denounced ongoing Israeli violations against Muslim sites in East Jerusalem.
"Israel claims the graves are situated on land owned by the Israeli Nature Authority," al-Qiswani said.
"But Israel has no historical -- or legal -- basis on which to claim any right to the cemetery," he said. "The site is an Islamic Waqf [endowment], and will remain so."
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It formally annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as its capital -- a move never recognized by the international community.