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
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
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
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
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.