Commission to review body snatching

As police searched for clues as to the whereabouts of the 13-month-old baby's body that was stolen from the Ashdod Municipal Cemetery on Sunday, Police Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi appointed an investigative commission to examine police activities surrounding the riots and body snatching that took place. The commission is to be led by Lt.-Cmdr. Rafi Peled, who since 2005 has led a police unit that combats illegal construction work and land allocation. Karadi instructed the commission to look at the 'big picture' of circumstances leading to the theft of the body, including checking standing orders and practices. He told Peled to consider aspects of the incident relating to the management of the investigation before and after haredi extremists, apparently from Jerusalem, stole the baby's body in order to prevent a post-mortem examination. Karadi also instructed Peled to consider the police response to the violent protests at the cemetery and the command decisions made throughout the incident. The commission's findings and recommendations are to be submitted to the police commander by June 15. On Sunday night, haredi demonstrators and police faced off after Ashdod Magistrate's Court Justice Robin Lavi reached a compromise with rabbis and the family of a baby who had died earlier that day, under which the baby's body would undergo blood tests and a spinal tap but not a postmortem operation. Four police officers were injured by rocks and glass thrown in the protests, which were eventually calmed after rabbis and police held discussions. But while police and rabbis were working out the final details of the compromise, haredi extremists broke into the room at the Ashdod Municipal Cemetery in which the body was being held, and stole the body. Although police set up checkpoints, searched houses and even detained a suspect for questioning, they failed to discover the location of the baby's body. While police guards were spread out at several cemeteries in the area and around Jerusalem, the baby's body was apparently buried at an unknown location and the family was instructed by rabbis to begin mourning.