One Week After Deployment, New Police Presence on Har Hazeisim is “Game Changer”


har-hazeisim-policeOne week after the new police sub-station opened near the Seven Arches Hotel on top of Har Hazeisim, security on the mountain and surrounding areas has dramatically improved, according to Harvey Schwartz and Jeff Daube, heads of the Israeli branch of the International Committee for the Preservation on Har Hazeisim. Called Tachanat Shalem, the new station is already responsible for a week free of any desecration of graves or stoning of visitors.   According to Captain Dudu Hayun who is responsible for the new station which will ultimately include 30 police officers, detectives and a mounted unit, several arrests were already made in the week the police have been there.

Hayun told Mssrs. Schwartz and Daube that the police were not only patrolling all areas of the cemetery but also the approach roads, which have been the scene of many stoning incidents prior to the police arrival. He revealed that in a sting operation last week, Israeli undercover agents dressed as Chassidim were pelted with rocks and the hooligans were immediately arrested. “There will be a zero tolerance policy here,” said Hayun. He urged anyone that is either accosted or under attack to immediately report the incident to the new sub-station near the Seven Arches Hotel. The police are also working closely with the monitoring station that coordinates the 137 surveillance cameras throughout the 3,000 year-old cemetery and a private security force that is responsible for additional protection for visitors. “After this enormous investment and seriousness with which the government takes these new security measures, it is time for Jews to visit Judaism’s most historic cemetery en masse,” said Mr. Schwartz.

The Committee, founded by Brooklyn businessman Avrohom Lubinsky, had made the police presence on Har Hazeisim an important part of securing the 3000 year-old cemetery from the violence and desecration which has been plaguing Judaism’s holiest and oldest cemetery. Mr. Lubinsky said that while there has been a police presence and even checkpoints in the perimeter of Har Hazeisim in the 44 years since it was liberated from the Jordanians in the 1967 Six-Day War, this is the first time in Jewish history that a Jewish police force is positioned on top of the cemetery itself.” Commenting on the changed security situation, he emotionally said: “We have taken an important step in taking Har Hazeisim back and keeping it Jewish.”

“This has been a historic week for all Jews who cherish and respect this holy burial site of 150,000 Jews, including the most celebrated leaders of Jewish history,” said Mr. Lubinsky. The committee includes Jews from all walks of life, including leaders of major Jewish organizations.

Malcolm Hoenlein, a committee member and Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, congratulated Minister of Internal Security Yitzchak Aharonovich for “taking this necessary and important action to protect the graves of the departed and the lives of loved ones and others who come to mourn and pray at this holy site.”He added: “This unprecedented vicious ongoing attacks on Har Hazeitim and its environs is part of a sustained effort to deny us of our history and there is no site that has more Jewish history than Har Hazeitim.” Mr. Hoenlein was referring to the fact that Har Hazeitim includes the burial site of three Nevi’im (prophets) as well as many prominent rabbinic, political and cultural leaders of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.”  Mr. Hoenlein was part of a group of Jewish leaders that included New York Congressmen Elliot Engel and Jerrold Nadler who were stoned on Har Hazeitim on February 24th.

Representatives Engel and Nadler subsequently sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterating the need for Israeli authorities to protect the sacred cemetery at Har Hazeisim, which abuts Jerusalem’s Old City.  The Members requested his help in preventing both desecration of the gravesites and attacks on visitors. “We know Israel recognizes the serious importance of Har Hazeitim to Israelis and Jews around the world.  No holy site should be subjected to desecration and people of all faiths should be able to visit such places in peace.”

Mr. Lubinsky said that the new sub-station, which consists of two fully equipped trailers, will eventually be replaced by a permanent structure. “This is a very emotional day for me, as it marks the culmination of two years of effort to bring change to the cemetery that has experienced repeated destruction of graves, violence against visitors (including stonings and Molotov cocktail attacks), abuse that included trampling on graves, dumping refuse and even feces on the graves, and in general an atmosphere of neglect.

The Committee is lobbying for a new law in Israel that would mandate stiff sentence for perpetrators of crimes in Israel’s cemetery, just as it is in many states in this country and a significant number of countries around the world. Mr. Lubinsky said that this was due to the fact that apprehended criminals received only a slap on the wrist and that such a law “would put teeth into the presence of the police and surveillance cameras on Har Hazeitim.” He noted  that there has been an unprecedented number of attacks against visitors in recent weeks, which appeared “coordinated and with the purpose of instilling fear in Jews and in effect ceding Jewish jurisdiction of Har Hazeitim to Arabs who call the sprawling Jewish cemetery Ras al Amud.” In fact, Palestinian maps of the area show Har Hazeitim as a park.

The Committee is also hoping that the government will step up the restoration of some 75,000 graves destroyed by the Jordanians (1948-1967), installation of fencing, closure of roads used by the Arabs to travel through Har Hazeitim, repairs of breeches in some walls used by Arab youths to stone visitors and destroy graves, and in general making Har Hazeitim a major tourist site for Jews from around the world.”

“The new police station is a very important milestone in our efforts,” concluded Mr. Lubinsky, who pledged to continue the Committee’s initiative “to restore Har Hazeitim to its historic glory and to allow the 150,000 Jews who are buried there the opportunity to finally rest in peace.”

{Yair Israel}


  1. FINALLY! But why did it take American pressure? It should have been done long ago by the Israeli government without any discussion.