Plans to build a rocket- and missile-proof new emergency room at
Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center were dealt a blow on Thursday when
Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the top rabbinic authority for the
Lithuanian haredi community, told Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov
Litzman not to be complicit in moving graves to make room for the structure.
Elyashiv told Litzman during a meeting at the former’s Mea She’arim
home not to enable the NIS 90-million construction since it did not
constitute saving lives.
According to associates of Elyashiv, he had ruled that “not only would
allowing the construction cause severe damage from the point of view of
Jewish law, but it would also change the image of Israel into a
grave-moving country.”Related: Ministry staff, MK oppose threat to D-G in Barzilai dispute
Litzman, of United Torah Judaism, insists that bones found on the site
long planned for the new emergency room – determined by archeological
experts to be of Christians from the Byzantine period – are “Jewish
bones” that “can’t be moved” according to Halacha.
Instead, Litzman wants the emergency room to be built on a more distant
parking lot, which will cost NIS 100 million more and take 18 months
longer to plan and put up.
An Israel Antiquities Authority study in 2008 of ancient remains found
on the plot shows the bones are those of “Christians or pagans.”
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Judy Siegel Itzovich contributed to this report
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