Palestinians vandalize EU-funded site to protest music party

Abandoned for many years, the site previously served as a center for the rehabilitation of drug addicts from east Jerusalem and the West Bank

Nabi Musa, or the Tomb of the Prophet Moses. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Nabi Musa, or the Tomb of the Prophet Moses.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Hundreds of Palestinians have rampaged through an architectural and religious site that was renovated last year with funding by the European Union, setting fire to furniture and other equipment after removing them from the compound.
Over the past few days, the Palestinians, mostly from east Jerusalem, converged on the historic site, known as Maqam Nabi Musa, or Tomb of Prophet Moses, after discovering that it was being used by young men and women to hold a music party.
The compound consists of a shrine, mosque, minaret and dozens of rooms built during the reign of al-Dahr Baybers, a Mamluk Sultan, in 1269 CE. Located near Jericho and 20 km. east of Jerusalem, the site has been under the control of the Palestinian Authority since 1995.
Abandoned for many years, the site previously served as a center for the rehabilitation of drug addicts from east Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Last year, PA Prime Minister Mohamad Shtayyeh, together with representatives of the EU and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), inaugurated a 5 million euros EU-funded project to renovate the site.
Implemented by UNDP in cooperation with the PA Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and other stakeholders in the tourism sector, the program aims at supporting the development of cultural tourism in the PA-controlled territories.
The project transformed the site into a fully-functioning guest house and tourist center for both religious and mainstream tourism. Restoration works included a rehabilitation of pathways, building elevations and basic infrastructure networks, development of the exterior courtyard and landscaping, according to The Office of the European Union Representative.
The Palestinians who attacked the site accused the organizers of the party of desecrating the Muslim faith. They claimed that “naked women” participated in the event, where alcohol was being served.
Following the protests, the PA security forces arrested Sama Abdel Hadi, an internationally celebrated techno DJ famous for organizing electronic music parties.
The PA government has also formed a commission of inquiry to find out who gave permission to the young female DJ to hold the party at the site.
Abdel Hadi’s family said that she received permission from the PA Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities on December 17, 2020. The general director of the ministry, Jehad Yasin, who issued the permission, even thanked Abdel Hadi for her interest in holding important techno music events at Palestinian heritage sites.
“Abdel Hadi acted out of good intentions, although it was an inconsiderate action on her part,” said Palestinian journalist and writer Nadia Harhash. “She thought that Maqam Nabi Musa was only an archaeological and heritage site.”
Commenting on the vandalism at the site, Harhash added: “If I were in the place of the EU and the UNDP, I would suspend funding of all projects to the Palestinian Authority, and demand financial compensation for the damage caused to the site.”