Unruly visitors rush burial site, leading France to close it after a day

Only 15 people were able to visit the newly opened resting place of the Adiabenian Jewish queen in Jerusalem, but then a Thursday clash led to the closing of the site.

June 27, 2019 20:09
1 minute read.
Haredi rioters affiliated with extremist communities block traffic at a Jerusalem junction

Haredi rioters affiliated with extremist communities block traffic at a Jerusalem junction. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Only one day after Foreign Minister Israel Katz congratulated the French government for re-opening the Tombs of the Kings in Jerusalem, the site closed after visitors attempted to enter it without registering. 
In an official post, the French consulate-general in Jerusalem announced “We deplore the violent incidents that took place today at the entrance of the site.”   
The French government, they explained, placed a link on their website allowing people to register to visit the site two days during the week in groups of up to 15 people. 
A group registered online and was about the leave the site on Thursday when a group of haredim attempted to rush in without signing up, Yahoo News reported. 
When they were prevented entry, they assaulted two of the consulate staff who were present. 
The site, owned by France, is an impressive burial cave built to honor one of the impressive figures of Jewish history – Helena the queen. 
Helena, who was queen of the ancient kingdom of Adiabene (in modern-day Iraq), and her sons were buried in the site, having converted to the Jewish faith in the first century CE.

The burial site, now accessed at the junction of Nablus Road and Salah Ad-Din Street and locally called the Tombs of the Kings, was long thought to be the resting place for figures from the Talmud by Jewish residents of the city.

Some Jewish people still hold this view, and seek entry to the site to honor the memory of noted Rabbinical sages whom, they claim, are buried there. 
French archaeologist Louis Félicien de Saulcy, who studied the site in 1863, thought he found the burials grounds of the House of David.
The Jewish community, outraged by de Saulcy’s removal of human remains, which is against Jewish religious law, demanded he stop his work. 
The French archaeologist eventually did so, but not before he made sure the discovered sarcophagi and other findings would be shipped to Paris, where today they are preserved at the Louvre.
To prevent further damages, the site was bought by the French-Jewish family of Pereire and was given to the government of France on the condition it would keep the site for the benefit of the Jewish people.
The French government invested $1.1 million in the renovation of the site since 2010, Yahoo News reported.      

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