Will bones spark a coalition crisis? United Torah Judaism faction
members appealed on Wednesday to Minister of Religious Services Yakov Margi in a demand that he instruct to seize construction on Andromeda Hill in Jaffa, due to the discovery of ancient graves on
According to the faction members, the construction work constitutes a breach in their coalition agreement with the government.
"We were shocked to discover how far the desecration of the dead goes; human bones and skulls are rolling as muck across the field, and no one says anything," wrote Deputy Minister Yakov Litzman and Knesset Members Moshe Gafni, Meir Porush, Uri Maklev and Menachem Eliezer Moses.
The faction members claimed that "during construction work human bones were excavated. We see this matter with the utmost severity, and protest the harsh violation of the respect of the dead."
In the letter sent to Minister Margi, the MKs wrote that they were appealing to him "urgently, as the chairman of the Ministerial Burial Committee and as the one responsible of handling human bones discovered at excavation sites."
According to the faction members, in the coalition agreement with the government there is a clause saying, "Out of concern to the respect of the dead it is determined that in a place where tombs or human bones are found, the construction will resume according to an arrangement set by the government and in accordance with the law.
"If required, a ministerial committee should be established in order to review the existing legal situation on the matter, while examining the issue of the respect of the dead and Jewish religion," it said.
In recent weeks, hundreds of haredim have been protesting in Jaffa
and clashed with police officers at the construction site. The demonstrations sparked protest in the capital city as well, where radical elements from Eda Haredit stirred a storm following the excavation of bones from
tombs located in the vicinity of the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,
who was forced to intervene, established a special committee
to examine the relocation of the new emergency room planned for the site. Eventually the committee decided
to resume construction at the original location.