Death of baby prompts haredi rioting against court-ordered autopsy

The four-month-old baby suffered severe brain damage allegedly as the result of being shaken by a care giver.

January 7, 2016 20:05
1 minute read.
An ultra-Orthodox Jew gestures during a protest in the Mea Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem

An ultra-Orthodox Jew gestures during a protest in the Mea Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem. (photo credit: REUTERS)

A court ordered autopsy of a four-month-old haredi (ultra-Orthodox) baby, who died on Thursday after being hospitalized for injuries sustained at a daycare center, prompted violent demonstrations by radical elements of the haredi community.

The baby, Moshe Refael Mizrahi, was a grandson of Beit Shemesh Mayor Moshe Abutbul.

Mizrahi suffered severe brain damage, allegedly as the result of being shaken by a caretaker.

He died at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem on Thursday morning, 10 days after he was admitted for treatment.

After the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ordered that an autopsy be conducted to determine the cause of death, the child’s family appealed to the Supreme Court due to the restriction against autopsies in Jewish law in cases which will not help save other lives.

At the same time, president of the radical Edah Haredit, Rabbi Yitzhak Tuviah Weiss, called on his followers to protest the decision.

Dozens answered his call and protested violently during the course of Thursday afternoon. Protesters took to the central Shabbat Square thoroughfare in the haredi neighborhood of Mea She’arim in Jerusalem, blocking traffic, burning trash cans and throwing stones at police.

The protests and confrontations with police continued into the late afternoon, with traffic blocked for several hours. Mounted police and water cannons were eventually deployed to disperse the rioters.

Haredi men also sought to block traffic in Beit Shemesh, where they also engaged in violent confrontations with police.

The police made ten arrests during the riot in Jerusalem and another three in Beit Shemesh.

In light of the riots, the Zaka search and rescue organization arranged for an MRI scan to be conducted on the body to try and determine the cause of death without an autopsy.

The Supreme Court was expected to rule last night whether or not an autopsy would need to be conducted following the MRI scan.

Judy Siegel contributed to this article.

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