An Israeli court ruling allowing the construction of a Jewish museum over graves of some companions of Prophet Muhammad Occupied East Jerusalem is sparking a controversy.
"Israeli is declaring a global war on Muslims and Arabs," Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, told a press conference on Thursday, October 30.
"A general of the [prophet’s] Companions is buried in this cemetery."
Sheikh Salah noted that thousands of other Muslims have been buried in the cemetery, putting the number at 70,000 thousands until 1948.
Israel’s High Court on Wednesday, October 29, rejected an appeal by two Muslim groups to halt the building of a Jewish museum on the site of a Muslim cemetery in central Arab East Jerusalem.
The court argued that the cemetery has been in public use since the municipality authorities put a parking lot over a small section of the graveyard in the 1960s.
It claimed that a proposal put forward by the museum planners to rebury the bones or cover the graves was "satisfactory" to resolve the issue.
The court said the construction of the museum, halted in 2006 after human remains were discovered during the digging, can resume immediately.
The Mufti of Al-Quds, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, said the verdict was a "grave decision which harms the Muslim holy sites."
He described the construction of the $250-million museum by a Los Angeles-based Jewish group as "act of aggression."
Sheikh Salah appealed to the Muslim world to intervene to halt the construction on the Muslim cemetery.
"We have sent messages to the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference to stop this crime."
The Muslim leader said the court verdict was part of the Israeli policies to judaize the holy city.
"But we will not give up our rights."
Israel captured East Jerusalem (known in Arabic as Al-Quds) in the 1967 war and later annexed the holy city, in a move not recognized by the international community.
The city is home to Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest shrine and the first Qiblah (direction Muslims take during prayers).
The Arab city is also home to some of the holiest Christian worship places, including the Jerusalem Church and the Greek Orthodox Church.
Archmandrite Atallah Hanna also criticized the Israeli court ruling.
"This is the true face of the occupation," he told the same press conference.
The Christian clergy reaffirmed the unity of Palestinian Muslims and Christians in the face of Israeli aggressions.
"We stand shoulder to shoulder in the same trench."