A court on Wednesday issued an order freezing the construction of a homeless shelter over an ancient Muslim cemetery in Jaffa, which in recent days sparked a number of violent riots in the mixed Jewish-Arab city.
The Tel Aviv District Court's ruling came following a petition launched by the Jaffa Islamic Council against the municipality, claiming its building permit was not valid.
Judge Limor Bibi ruled the construction work should be held off until the first hearing on the matter on July 22.
The homeless shelter is planned to be constructed on the Maqbarat al-Is’aaf cemetery that had not been in use for the past 90 years.
Despite the ruling, protesters demonstrated in the afternoon hours on the disputed site demanding work on the building stops.7
Jaffa police said they made several arrests for disruption of public order, stone-throwing and assault on police officers.
Local residents have been demonstrating against the project for the past two weeks, blocking roads, burning trash bins and hurling objects at police forces.
Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality announced it would act in compliance with the court order and suspend all construction pending a final ruling.
On Tuesday, residents demonstrated outside city hall as part of their campaign, carrying a coffin with signs claiming the municipality was violating Muslim graves while chanting nationalistic cries and praising Allah.
Mohammad Edrei, the chairman of a board of trustees for the Muslim charitable trust and one of the leaders of the campaign, claimed the city could easily find an alternative location.
"The mayor is building the city's 46th dog park, surely it could be used to build the homeless shelter," he said.
The mayor has no respect for us and refuses to even discuss the matter with us so we will relay our message to him from the cemetery where we will remain," Edrei warned, "we will not allow bulldozers on the spot and will fight this with every legal means at our disposal and will prevent the dead from being dug up." Edrei said.