(photo credit: JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVITCH)
Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman said he will not attend the cornerstone
laying ceremony at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon Thursday because of his
“commitment to light Hanukka candles.”
The ceremony marks the
construction of the fortified surgical and emergency departments building, which
has been delayed for a decade, but is slated for completion in the next few
The Gur Hassid and United Torah Judaism MK, who fiercely opposed
the construction project on a lot where ancient bones of pagans were found but
who was overridden by the government, said Tuesday he would not attend the
He did not say where he would kindle a hanukkia, when asked by
The Jerusalem Post
, but candles will be lit at the Barzilai ceremony by MK Rabbi
Haim Amsalem (Shas), who will be a guest along with Foreign Minister Avigdor
The director-general that Litzman had appointed,
Dr. Eitan Hai-Am, resigned in March 2010 to protest the deputy health
minister’s initiative to relocate the planned medical facility to a more distant
site – thereby raising costs by an estimated NIS 135 million and significantly
Litzman moved the project because he insisted the
ancient graves on the land were those of Jews and had to remain
Haredi activists from the Atra Kadisha organization called
on Litzman to prohibit moving the bones. But archeologists said that during
preliminary digs, they found clear evidence from ancient Philistine and other
Pagan markings that they were not Jewish remains.
Although the cabinet
initially voted to relocate the partially underground facility, public, medical
and political pressure on Prime Minister and former health minister Binyamin
Netanyahu forced the ministers to reverse their original decision and approve
construction on the lot.
The controversial bones were removed and
The invitation in Hebrew and English to attend the
ceremony was issued by Barzilai and not by the ministry, which owns the
Although Lieberman and Amsalem’s names appear as honored
guests, Litzman’s does not and neither does that of any prominent ministry
official. Asked if the director-general who replaced Hai-Am, Prof.
Gamzu, or other senior officials will attend, Litzman declined to
But Barzilai was told that Litzman would attend a different
ceremony at the hospital next week, right after Hanukka, for the dedication of a
new MRI scanner.
There will be no bones in sight but bones of contention
regarding the longdelayed fortified facility.