Haredim protest, Margi mulls Jaffa dig bones

Motorcyclist badly hurt in collision with trash bin at Jerusalem demo.

By JONAH MANDEL
July 9, 2010 06:40
2 minute read.
Haredim in hard hats

Haredim in hard hats 311. (photo credit: Dan Morgan)

 
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Religious Services Minister Ya’acov Margi (Shas) has announced that he is considering how to act on the archeological dig under way at the Andromeda Hill area in Jaffa, where human bones have been found.

Margi said late Wednesday that he would be holding a series of consultations with Halacha experts and Antiquities Authority personnel, and personally visiting the disputed site.

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His announcement followed a letter by members of United Torah Judaism, who earlier in the day issued an “urgent appeal” to the minister to protest the continuation of the dig, in his capacity as head of the ministerial committee for matters relating to burial and bones discovered at sites.

Demonstrators charge police with 'excessive force'

The UTJ faction demanded of Margi to halt the work immediately and conduct an exhaustive discussion on the topic with the ministerial committee.

Protests against the dig have been taking place on a nearly daily basis, drawing hundreds of haredim affiliated with the extreme Eda Haredit and Atra Kadisha groups. Police at times detain protesters for trespassing or disturbing the peace. However, demonstrators charge that excessive force is being used against them.

On Thursday, demonstrators showed up at the site, adorned with yellow hard-hats, as if in preparation for the expected bludgeoning. They also held posters depicting police brutality.



The night before, a demonstration against the dig and ensuing arrests that took place in Jerusalem left one motorcyclist in serious condition and another in moderate condition.

Some 200 rallying haredim set fire to trash bins and used them to block Route 1. An approaching motorcycle collided with one of the bins, and the two riders were flung off the vehicle.

Until Wednesday’s letter, UTJ politicians had been somewhat cautious regarding the dispute, perhaps due to its following the Barzilai affair, in which the prime minister ultimately ruled against Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman’s endorsement of relocating the hospital’s planned emergency room at additional cost and time.

MKs find demonstrations have 'extremist tone'

Another problem for the MKs is the extremist tone of the Jaffa demonstrations, in which law enforcement officers are at times called Nazis and stoned.

UTJ MKs Uri Maklev and Moshe Gafni did, however, conduct a visit to the site at the end of May and called for an end to the dig.

Meanwhile, the Eda Haredit called for a half-day of fasting and prayer this Sunday over the ongoing Jaffa excavations, in a petition signed by the group’s Badatz (rabbinical court of justice).

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