vandalized muslim graves.
(photo credit: International Women's Peace Service)
Crews composed of soldiers, settlers, and Civil Administration officials labored overnight Saturday to restore nine Muslim gravestones that were sprayed with graffiti and broken on Friday by Jews in Kifl Harith, northwest of Ariel.
Early Sunday, Maj. Yaniv Eruv of the IDF Liaison Office for the Kalkilya area met with the head of the village's council to report that the work was complete.
The vandalism was caused by a few of the approximately 1,300 Jews who had received permission from the IDF to enter the village to pray at the grave of Biblical hero Joshua (Yehoshua Bin-Nun).
Eight gravestones were broken; one of the broken ones and an additional grave were defaced with graffiti reading, "Death to Arabs."
The IDF apologized for the incident.
Science and Technology, Culture and Sports Minister Ghaleb Majadle, Israel's first Muslim cabinet member, demanded Sunday that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz investigate the incident.
"The settlers have lost any spark of humanity, and destroyed any legitimacy they had among the Israeli public," Majadle wrote. "This is a despicable act, entirely targeted at damaging the chances of peace between the peoples."
Majadle was not alone in speaking out against the incident.
"As rabbis, we condemn the disgrace and are reminded of our own pain when acts such as these are carried out against us," said Rabbi Arik Ascherman, a member of Rabbis for Human Rights. "The only consolation in this case is the anger and embarrassment that I heard in the voice of the IDF officer who personally asked to bring forces to repair the damage. But when it is acceptable to put an entire village under closure to allow Jewish worshipers to be in the village all night long, to make noise and so forth, the disrespect involved in this paves the way for such acts."
Ascherman and other rabbis made a solidarity visit to the site on Sunday.