Members of the Druse community watch the funeral of Israeli Druse police officer Zidan Saif in the northern village of Yanuh-Jat on November 19, 2014..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Religious Services Ministry clarified Tuesday that the families of the victims of the terrorist attack in Paris at a kosher supermarket would not be charged for the burial of their relatives.
The burial of Israeli citizens is subsidized by the state, but full costs are usually levied on the families of foreign citizens who wish to bury their relatives in Israel.
The families were initially offered to bury the victims on the Mount of Olives by the Sephardic Hevra Kadisha burial society, which has longstanding land ownership there, an official with the society told The Jerusalem Post.
The government said, however, that making the Mount of Olives site secure for the dignitaries at the burial ceremony would be too complicated, and the families themselves were not in favor of burial there.
The Consistoire, the French Jewish community organization, then said that it had an offer from a businesswoman to bury the victims in her private plot next to the Har Hamenuhot Cemetery in Jerusalem.
The Hevra Kadisha pointed out that the plot is outside the cemetery and that it is illegal to bury anyone there, and the families eventually rejected this proposal.
They also refused a proposal for free burial in what is known as a multi-tiered grave at Har Hamenuhot, in which rows of separate burial chambers are built into a wall and stacked about three high, with the headstones visible.
The Consistoire then told the Hevra Kadisha that it had another private donor who was offering to pay for regular burial and the Hevra Kadisha responded by offering to greatly reduce the price to approximately NIS 50,000 – NIS 40,000 for the plots and NIS 10,000 for the burial costs.
The Hevra Kadisha insists that it is legally prohibited from offering the burial sites for free and that it was never in touch directly with the families, but rather with the Consistoire, which offered to pay the costs through its private donor.
It also noted that burial in private plots in Jerusalem is extremely expensive, starting from NIS 90,000 even for Israeli citizens.
An official in the Ministry of Religious Services told the Post that the Hevra Kadisha had promised on several occasions to the ministry that it would not demand payment from the families.
But an official with the Sephardic Hevra Kadisha insisted that it had made clear that the option of free burial it had offered was only for the Mount of Olives or multi-tiered burial, not for regular burial.
The Ministry of Religious Services told Yediot Aharonot that, after reviewing the facts, its officials discovered that the families of the victims had refused the two free options offered to them, and asked for a normal burial.
The ministry said that “a field burial” in Jerusalem costs some NIS 120,000. As an exception, the Jewish community (and not the families) would be charged NIS 40,000 per burial plot and NIS 10,000 for each funeral – totaling NIS 200,000.”
But on Tuesday night, after the involvement of Minister for Religious Services Naftali Bennett and Deputy Minister Eli Ben-Dahan, the ministry agreed to pay for the costs of the burial.