Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

15 Sivan 5765 - June 22, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Progress in Talks to Prevent Desecration of Burial Caves Along Trans-Israel Highway Route

By Betzalel Kahn

Significant progress was made this week in talks to prevent the desecration of burial caves along the route of the Trans- Israel Highway during a meeting of the Religious Lobby at Kibbutz Regavim, located near the site of the burial caves. The meeting followed an onsite tour on which participants included representatives of the Prime Minister, chareidi MKs, the Chairman of the Association for the Prevention of Grave Desecration, Transportation Ministry officials, the Trans- Israel Highway Company and police officials.

Trans-Israel Hwy. Co. CEO Yehuda Cohen announced that the road near the burial caves that were emptied a few months ago would be rerouted by a few meters to one side and a supporting wall would be built alongside the caves as proposed by engineer Rami Manor. Cohen also said that construction work near the newly-discovered cave would be performed at a distance of 200 meters to avoid damaging the cave, as promised by Transportation Minister Meir Shetreet.

During the meeting, Cohen displayed maps of the planned route and discussed the necessity of making progress in paving the road. He expressed exasperation over the fact that the Jewish National Fund did not uproot trees growing along the route as previously agreed upon and that procedures to detect the presence of additional burial caves would therefore not be feasible.

Manor then presented his proposals to avoid desecrating the caves, but said until all of the trees are removed it would be very difficult to determine whether other burial caves exist or where they are.

Rabbi Michah Rothschild, chairman of the Association for the Prevention of Grave Desecration, spoke sadly about the desecration of the two burial caves several months ago "like thieves in the night," and recalled the perseverance of chareidi MKs, including the Deputy Transportation Minister, to uphold the promise made by Minister Shetreet not to allow any further damage to the caves.

He complained that it takes two weeks to authorize the uprooting of trees, "but graves are desecrated in a minute."

Uzi Kern, an advisor of the Prime Minister, said that there must be dialogue and trust between the sides. "Why do chareidim have to stay here day and night because they are worried that another burial cave will be desecrated, even though there is an explicit promise of a Minister that no more caves will be desecrated? Without trust we will not progress." Kern offered to serve as a mediator, saying that he had the full faith of the Prime Minister.


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