Jerusalem’s Mamilla, or Maman Allah, cemetery has been a Muslim burial ground since the 7th century.
It is said to hold the remains of companions of the Prophet Muhammad, soldiers and officials from the rule of Saladin in the 12th century, as well as generations of Jerusalem’s most important families.
When Israeli authorities opened Mamilla mall in 2007, the cemetery remained a stark reminder of ancient Islamic history in the midst of modern commercial structures.
Today, the cemetery is on the verge of complete destruction.
The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center is set to build what is termed a “Museum of Tolerance” on cemetery grounds, a plan which has already seen over 1,500 graves disinterred to make way for the site.
The cemetery has also been the site of racist attacks by Jewish extremists. In 2011, at least 15 tombstones were sprayed with slogans reading “death to the Arabs.”
Mamilla cemetery is an ancient symbol of Palestinian and Islamic cultural heritage, but faces a long battle to protect its historical significance as Israel continues to build over its history.