More than 40 graves were vandalized in the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives in eastern Jerusalem during the Rosh HaShana holiday.
The vandalism occurred in the Ger Section cemetery, just in front of the “maarah” where the Bais Yisroel and the Lev Simcha, two rebbes of Ger, are interred.
Dozens of masked and hooded Arab youths broke surveillance cameras on Friday afternoon, the second day of Rosh Hashanah, before turning their rampage on the gravestones and graves nearby. Amongst the graves that were desecrated were those of Harav Yitzchok Meir Levine and Harav Shaul Moshe Zilberman zt”l.
Harav Levine was the world Agudah leader who served in the Knesset and was the architect of significant gains by Torah Jewry as the new Israeli state took shape. Harav Zilberman was the great tzaddik and gaon, known as the Vyereshever Rav.
According to Jews who live in the Maale Hazeitim development across the road, a police vehicle deployed nearby did not intervene until reinforcements arrived more than an hour later. When they did show up, the police simply dispersed the Arab youths. Some of the gravestones appeared to be smashed with sledgehammers, while others were turned over in a scene that was reminiscent of some of the worst anti-Semitic acts on a Jewish cemetery.
Avrohom Lubinsky, Chairman of the International Committee for the Preservation of Har Hazeisim (the Mount of Olives), called on Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who is currently visiting the US “to end the ongoing Intifada in Yerushalyim which has now extended to the kedoshim buried on Har Hazeisim.”
Lubinsky said that the investment of tens of millions of shekalim over the past four years into security cameras and a police station is woefully inadequate at a time when local Arabs continue their lawless behavior in Yerushalayim. He pleaded with the Prime Minister to “allow the kedoshim ‘to rest in peace.’” He added: “Even your ancestors are buried there.”
Meanwhile, plans are being made for a Tefillah gathering at the site of the devastation on Tuesday September 30th at 4 p.m. In New York, the ICPHH is hoping to meet with visiting Israeli officials to register their protest.
Mr. Lubinsky said that the security situation in eastern Jerusalem has deteriorated significantly since the abduction of the three yeshiva boys at the start of the summer. This, after four years of steady improvements including the installation of 137 surveillance cameras, many of which have now been vandalized. A new police substation was established but of late the station is poorly manned and often closed for days. A security detail deployed at the Ras al Amud Square is often pulled for other duty and when it leaves the post, incidents happen, including the stoning of a school bus last week which terrified the young children.
Despite some 700 arrests in recent weeks, few of the hoodlums served any time and most were released the same day as minors. The government and Knesset have been slow to pass legislation mandating stiff sentences, according to Lubinsky. That is contributing to an atmosphere of the Wild West in eastern Yerushalayim, where 40,000 illegal structures have been built and where the chances of even receiving a traffic ticket are slim. Some have begun to wonder whether Israel has given up on eastern Yerushalayim despite the rhetoric of a “united Yerushalyim.”