The Yerushalayim Municipality has unveiled a one million shekel new security plan for
“We are delighted that the Municipality and the Police have agreed to further step up the security of Har Hazeisim with an innovative new program,” said Avrohom Lubinsky, chairman of the International Committee for Har Hazeisim. The new plan adds to the extensive fencing and surveillance cameras by installing new technologically advanced measures to protect the graves and visitors. Although vandalism and other acts of violence have been virtually stamped out, the new measures will greatly enhance the security of the cemetery and its access points.
“We are hoping that these new measures will guarantee that we never revert to the time when graves were routinely destroyed and visitors stoned,” said Mr. Lubinsky. The ICCH, which has been the impetus behind the dramatic changes that have taken place on the 3,000-year old cemetery, congratulated the City Council and Mayor Moshe Lion for addressing the security concerns. In its near nine-year existence, the ICHH has managed to lobby the Knesset and Government to secure the historic mountain.
The ICHH includes leaders of many organizations, activists, and families who have loved one buried on Har Hazeisim. Such notable leaders as Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice President of the Conference of Major American Jewish Organizations, are members of the ICHH board.
Since its founding in 2010, the ICHH has been behind the installation of 176 cameras, the establishment of a police substation, the stationing of a platoon of Border Police, the restoration of 20,000 graves, the building of new fencing, and arranging regular sanitation and garbage pick-up in the cemetery.
A major achievement of the ICHH was the establishment of a Knesset Caucus for Har Hazeisim by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, which included 70 members of the Knesset, the largest such lobby since the founding of the State. MK Rabbi Yoav Ben-Tzur (Shas) headed the Caucus in the outgoing Knesset. The ICCH is also partnering with the government and the municipality in constructing a multi-million dollar Educational and Visitor Center.
In a statement, the Municipality said: “the new security program is consistent with efforts in the past few years in which it worked closely with the Police to bring safety and security to Har Hazeisim. These measures included installing a perimeter fence to prevent vandalism and adding lighting columns. A spokesman for the Israeli Police said: “The police have worked hard over the years to increase security on Har Hazeisim and the surrounding areas, including manning a sub-station on the mountain itself.”
The Municipality has worked very closely with the ICHH and the Israeli Police, particularly in deploying new advanced technological measures to coincide with the surveillance cameras, lighting and increased patrols. The police have taken every incident, however insignificant, very seriously, making numerous arrests in what they call a “zero-tolerance” policy. The enhanced security has brought thousands of visitors to Har Hazeisim in recent years, including tens of thousands on yahrzeits of some of the notable tzaddikim buried there.