Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

25 Nissan 5765 - May 4, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Irreversible Harm to Graves Along Route of Trans-Israel Highway

By Betzalel Kahn

Degel HaTorah MKs Deputy Welfare Minister Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz and Rabbi Moshe Gafni are demanding the Prime Minister carry out the section of the coalition agreement stating that anytime graves are discovered during the course of an excavation, work will be stopped immediately until a suitable solution is found.

Following communications to the Transportation Minister, early this week the MKs contacted the Prime Minister demanding he adhere to the coalition agreement after it was learned that the excavation work would cause harm to the graves.

Construction work on the Trans-Israel Highway has stopped for one week beginning on Sunday, as agreed in a meeting held last Friday between Interior Minister Gidon Ezra and the police commanders of Jerusalem and the north and chareidi public figures including MK Rabbi Meir Porush.

Following intervention by Rabbi Gafni, police have pledged to release on Thursday the minors jailed for demonstrating against the grave desecration and to release the other demonstrators on Friday.

Despite assurances by the Transportation Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office that the burial caves along the route of the highway would not be harmed, construction workers continued to work near the burial caves after two caves were totally destroyed before Pesach.

The Association for the Prevention of Grave Desecration says that heavy equipment working in the area surrounding the graves first caused irreversible harm during the course of infrastructure work and that the government company continued to work, backed by the Transportation Minister, eventually making it possible for them to destroy the graves completely. The Antiquities Authority plans to enter and dig in the four open burial caves where skeletons and bones lie scattered.

The Jewish National Fund is also trying to save the four burial caves, which are located in an area covered with pine trees. Spokesmen for the Association for the Prevention of Grave Desecration say that construction work has continued without any attempts to coordinate with Association inspectors or to convene meetings to seek a suitable solution because the construction company wants to damage the caves to the point where an engineering solution would no longer be viable.

Trans-Israel Highway workers also began to excavate near another burial cave discovered further along the route near Yokneam, encroaching upon part of the cave where bones lay buried.

In addition to the temporary cessation of work, a proposal was made to have the rabbinical committee commissioned by gedolei Yisroel to seek a solution to the grave sites in Acco, join the discussions on the Trans-Israel Highway between the Association for the Prevention of Grave Desecration and Transportation Ministry representatives.

Last week a prayer rally was held outside the Government Compound (Kiryat Hamemshala) in Jerusalem, where speakers included HaRav Shmuel Birnbaum, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Mir of the US, and HaRav Yitzchok Tuvioh Weiss, gavad of the Eida Chareidis of Jerusalem.

Another prayer rally was held at the Israeli Embassy in London on Kensington Ave. Police cordoned off the street for the hundreds of demonstrators protesting the conduct of the Israeli government.

Police also closed streets near the Israeli Embassy in Manhattan to accommodate about 20,000 chareidi demonstrators at a third rally that drew extensive media coverage.


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