The Jewish Cemetery on the Mount of Olives.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Keeping the Jewish Cemetery on the Mount of Olives safe is a national priority, Construction Minister Yoav Gallant said on Wednesday, on a tour at the site to oversee its security condition.
As construction minister, Gallant (Kulanu) is in charge of the security of the cemetery.
That is due to a government decision from the late 1980s, according to which the Construction Ministry is in charge of the security of the site, as well as in other historical sites nearby.
After he was briefed by the commander of the local police station, Ch.-Supt. Nisso Guetta, Gallant praised the police’s activities around the cemetery and stressed the importance of keeping the Jewish historic and holy sites safe.
“Jews have been buried here for at least 2,000 years,” said Gallant. “We have a historic feeling for this place, and we must keep it safe. It is important to maintain it and keep it protected.
“There is no reason that Jews cannot walk around safe in this cemetery.... This is not Poland here,” he added.
Gallant also mentioned the political importance of Israeli sovereignty at the site.
“Some people in Israel think that Route 6 is our border,” he said. “They don’t go where they don’t feel safe. By protecting this place, we are changing [this perception].”
Gallant then referred to Guetta’s remarks on attempts by residents of the surrounding Arab neighborhoods to disturb the visitors of the site.
“We are trying – by sophisticated means – to get such people to avoid taking these kind of actions,” he said. “Not only by police patrols and cameras. We are investing there.... Only bored children are carrying out these kind of actions.”
Gallant was accompanied on his tour by MK Yoav Ben-Tzur (Shas), who is the chairman of the Mount of Olives Protection Caucus; Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; Menachem Lubinsky, co-chairman of the International Committee for the Preservation of Har Hazeitim; and Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Yosef Deitch.
Ben-Tzur said that he is thankful to those who arrived and contributed to the effort to preserve the site.
“We must remember that as representatives of the people, it is our duty to provide the security solutions for the cemetery, the visitors, and maintain he honor of the graves,” he said.