mount of olives 88.298.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Religious Services Ministry wants to install surveillance cameras in the Mount of Olives cemetery to stop the frequent acts of vandalism.
The problems have existed for years, without being addressed, said Alon Nuriel, spokesman to Religious Services Minister Ya'acov Margi, adding that the proposal had been forwarded to the Knesset.
There have been many incidents of desecration and vandalism committed by Arab teenagers living near the east Jerusalem site. While arrests have been made for tampering with the gravestones, the vandalism has continued.
Nuriel said the ministry was not yet sure when the cameras would be installed or how much the project would cost.
The cameras would look over the entire cemetery, he said on Wednesday. The surveillance would be directed to nearby police officers.
There are approximately 70,000 graves on Mount of Olives, said Moshe Bagaon, spokesman for the East Jerusalem Development Company. The company is in charge of maintaining and monitoring the cemetery, where many important Jewish figures have been buried over the centuries, including Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Kook, the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of the British Mandate, his son Rabbi Tvi Yehuda Kook, and former prime minister Menachem Begin. There are tombs traditionally associated with Zechariah and Avshalom.
Bagaon was unable to give The Jerusalem Post an estimate of how many desecrated graves needed repair, because there are many gravestones layered throughout the mountain and some have been affected by erosion and dust accumulation. He estimated the average cost of repairing a grave at NIS 2,000.
The company has begun repairs on some gravestones in the Sephardi section of the cemetery on the west side, he said.