With a pocketknife and 'divine assistance'

The success of Jewish extremists in snatching the body of an infant they thought was slated for autopsy from under the noses of a battery of police officers is a positive sign from God, a spokesman for the Edah Haredit, an amalgam of haredi groups bitterly opposed to the Zionist state and its institutions, said Monday. "It was God's hand," said the spokesman, who preferred to remain anonymous for fear police would try to grill him to discover the location of the body, which was clandestinely buried. The extremists objected to what they considered an autopsy, even after the family, in consultation with rabbis, agreed to a series of tests. These would have involved the drawing of brain fluid from the baby. An unlikely series of moves which the Edah source equated with "a miracle" enabled a small but determined group of haredim to snatch the tiny body from the padlocked, refrigerated holding room in the Ashdod cemetery Sunday. According to the source, the body snatchers achieved their goal thanks to God and a carefully coordinated plan that included filing the bars of a window with pocketknives, breaking down a door that led to the refrigerated room, and passing the body through a window to the waiting arms of collaborators. The man responsible for squirming through the small window and breaking into the refrigerated room was even detained but later released by the police. The haredi men who transported the infant's body for burial were also stopped by a police roadblock, questioned and searched, but, miraculously, let go. Autopsy is considered anathema to many Jews because it desecrates a body created in God's image. More mainstream Orthodox organizations that deal with dead bodies, such as ZAKA or the Chief Rabbinate regularly reach compromises with the police and the judicial system to allow autopsies that minimize intrusive surgery. However, the Edah Haredit distrusts and rejects the legitimacy of all state institutions considered "Zionist."