In a distressing scene that has provoked outrage in Palestine, extremist Jewish settlers recently danced, sang, and conducted Talmudic rituals above the graves of the historic Bab al-Rahma cemetery, situated beside the eastern wall of the revered Al-Aqsa Mosque. This brazen act, which occurred during the Jewish holiday known as “Yom Kippur (day of atonement),” has once again highlighted the brutality and racism displayed by Israeli settlers towards a cemetery representing ancient Islamic history and civilization.
The Bab al-Rahma cemetery holds a unique significance among Muslims, being one of the oldest Islamic burial grounds in Jerusalem, with a history dating back 1,400 years. It contains the resting places of companions who participated in the city’s liberation alongside Omar ibn al-Khattab and those who aided Saladin al-Ayyubi in liberating it from the Crusaders. This rich history has earned the cemetery a special place in the hearts of Muslims.
Stretching from the Bab al-Rahma to the southern end of the wall surrounding Al-Aqsa Mosque, the cemetery spans 23 dunams (about 5.7 acres). Unfortunately, part of this historic site faces the threat of being converted into a Jewish garden as part of an ongoing Israeli project aimed at Judaizing Jerusalem.
These attacks on the cemetery are not isolated incidents but rather part of a sustained effort by the Israeli occupation to erase its Islamic heritage and alter the cultural landscape of this sensitive area, all while aiming to assert control over Old Jerusalem and its surroundings.
The frequency of extremist Jewish settlers performing Talmudic rituals within the cemetery has escalated in recent years, particularly following a 2022 Israeli court decision that allowed such activities, including the controversial “blowing of the trumpet” inside the cemetery.
Jerusalem affairs specialist Jamal Amr stated that the Bab al-Rahma cemetery has long been a target for the Israeli occupation, driven by an extremist religious ideology. Israeli settlers hold the belief that Palestinians deliberately chose to bury their dead near Bab al-Rahma, viewing this gate as the entry point for the building of “Solomon’s Temple.” Although there is no scientific or historical evidence for this conviction, it persists as a driving force behind Israeli animosity towards the cemetery.
Extremist Israeli settlers deliberately provoke the emotions of Muslims by entering the cemetery, vandalizing tombstones, and conducting their Talmudic rituals, displaying a clear disregard for the sanctity of the dead and Islamic burial sites.
Amr emphasized that the attacks on the cemetery have not ceased but have instead intensified in recent times, with the intent of encroaching upon Al-Aqsa Mosque itself.
For years, the Israeli occupation have prohibited Palestinians from burying their deceased in the southern section of the cemetery, further exacerbating tensions. Amr lamented, “The Jews hold a deep-seated animosity against Muslims, waging a war against both the living and the deceased, against history and the present.”
The Council of Islamic Affairs and Holy Sites in Jerusalem has strongly condemned the recent violations of Bab al-Rahma cemetery by extremist settlers, who danced and sang atop the graves of deceased Muslims, often with the protection of Israeli occupation forces. The Council stated, “This scene reflects a hostile spirit against a cemetery that represents the history of our Islamic civilization in the vicinity of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and the entire Holy City.”
The council further denounced all Israeli measures around and inside Al-Aqsa Mosque, including settler incursions, as violations of religious and legal boundaries. They said that these actions, justified under the pretext of Jewish holidays, have no bearing on the history, reality, or message of Al-Aqsa Mosque, and warned against any attempts to alter its historical, legal, or religious status.