Israeli President Reuven Rivlin inspected the Afghan section of the cemetery on Har Hazeisim Monday, a site which has seen repeated vandalism and destruction by some of East Jerusalem’s Arab residents.
Rivlin was accompanied by four relatives of people buried in the Afghani section, which is located in a more remote area of the expansive site. Representatives from the Rabbinate, Police and Afghani Jewish community were also present.
At the time of the inspection, 62 graves had recently suffered severe damage from vandalism. While some were strewn with litter, including human excrement, others had been set on fire.
In addition to the horrifying disrespect to the dead, visitors to the graves often come under stone throwing attacks, and other serious assaults.
The president noted that the attacks barely receive coverage in the Israeli press. “In any other place across the world, there would have been a tremendous outcry if such things would occur,” he argued. Rivlin has spent much of his time in office pressing for an end to racism across all sections of Israeli society.
Rivlin, whose family moved to Jerusalem in 1809, said “We have returned to our homeland, yet even during ups and downs, we never abandoned it.” The president was in the area having paid his respects at his parents’ graves nearby.
“It cannot be so that in our state, we are unable to stop such terrible vandalism,” the president remarked solemnly. “We must not despair nor give up, we will never be moved from here,” he vowed.
Tazpit News Agency