US Embassy releases warning to stay clear of Jaffa as unrest continues

Date:

The riots began because of the city’s plan to build the Center for the Homeless on a site that was an old Muslim cemetery.

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
 

JUNE 14, 2020 10:34

A water truck in flames after an uneasy night in Jaffa  (photo credit: ALON HACHMON)

A water truck in flames after an uneasy night in Jaffa

(photo credit: ALON HACHMON)

The United States Embassy in Jerusalem released a warning to embassy personnel and US citizens currently located in Israel, asking them to keep clear of the city of Jaffa – specifically the area surrounding the Clock Tower – as protests in the city are predicted to turn violent throughout the coming days.

“The Embassy strongly encourages US citizens to remain vigilant and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness, as security incidents often take place without warning,” the embassy said in a statement. “The Embassy will continue to review the security situation and will provide additional information as needed.”

With regards to “actions to take” the embassy listed that US citizens and embassy employees should “keep a low profile, be aware of [their] surroundings, stay alert in locations frequented by tourists, review your personal security plans, have travel documents up to date and easily accessible, avoid all demonstrations, monitor local media, follow the instructions of local authorities and enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).”

Two arson events took place in the central city of Jaffa overnight Friday. In one case, an Eden water company truck was ignited, causing grave damage to cars parked nearby. Firefighting and rescue teams arrived at the scene and contacted police, which began investigating the circumstances of the incident.

Moreover, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a Tel Aviv municipal building. During that incident, a window in the building was shattered and a plastic bottle filled with gas was tossed inside. The fire caused extensive damage to at least one of the offices in the building.

The riots began because of the city’s plan to build the Center for the Homeless on a site that was an old Muslim cemetery.

The cemetery in question dates to the 18th century and was discovered in April 2018 as the city of Tel Aviv began digging to construct the foundation of the planned Center for the Homeless. Previously, a building dating to the Ottoman period stood on the same grounds, Ynet reported.

While the Muslim community claimed the cemetery is named El Asaf and is fighting to preserve it, a court decision from January ruled that in this case the project could continue.

The reasoning behind the approval was that the Muslim community, with the approval of then-Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Amin al-Husseini, removed the bodies and turned the grounds into a soccer field 80 years ago.

Additionally, the city intends to construct columns to ensure that human remains will maintain their dignity. The developer also stated that any human remains are worked around by hand to ensure they remain intact.

Alon Hochmon/Maariv and Zachary Keyser contributed to this report.

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