Following complaints of vandalism and desecration of graves in the Afghan section of the Mount of Olives, President Reuven Rivlin decided to go on Monday and inspect the extent of the damage. He was accompanied by four members of the Afghan Jewish community: Yigal and Kobi Dalmoni, Meir Namad and Dikla Shafran.
After first visiting the graves of his parents who are buried in another section of the Mount of Olives, Rivlin went to the Afghan section where he met up with other members of the community Reuven Kashanai, Rabbi Rephael Bakshi who is responsible for the section, and Hillel Hurvitz who is responsible for Jerusalem cemeteries in general. A senior member of the police force was also present.
Up until the time of Rivlin’s visit 62 graves had been desecrated. Some had garbage strewn around them and on others the headstones were broken.
In addition, Rivlin was informed that visitors to the Mount of Olives who go there to visit the graves of loved ones feel insecure and are often pelted with stones. After experiencing such danger, many have forbidden other relatives from visiting the site. The police officer said that security had been enhanced in recent weeks and that police regularly patrolled the area. But the officials responsible for caring for the graves said that it was an almost impossible mission because security cameras had been either broken or stolen on three occasions
Hurvitz said that they were thinking of building a high fence around the Afghan section.
Rivlin urged that the damage to graves be repaired as quickly as possible. If such a thing were to happen anywhere else in the world he said, there would be a huge outcry. He suggested that more effort be invested in measures to prevent further damage. He said that he could well understand the pain of families who came to pay their respects to a loved one and saw to their horror and outrage that the grave had been desecrated.
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