Designated ER construction site
Photo: Tzafrir Abayov

Graves adjacent to Barzilai hospital soon to be removed

Construction of emergency room in Ashkelon medical center may commence as early as next week following decision by committee created by PM Netanyahu

The ancient tombs near the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon which were at the heart of a national controversy will be removed in the near future, possibly next week, a specially designated committee created by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided on Sunday.


During the committee meeting, headed by Prime Minister's Office Director General Eyal Gabay, it was decided in accordance with Netanyahu's instruction that the construction of the new emergency room at the original site should commence as soon as possible.


This was made possible due to the revocation of a former government decision to relocate the emergency room to an alternate location due to the existence of ancient tombs on the site. The procedure would have cost the government an extra NIS 90 million (roughly $24 million) in budget funds.


The committee includes representatives of Israel's Antiquities Authority and the Health Ministry.


Another proposal was raised by haredi officials during the meeting, suggesting to build the ER above and below the graves, in such a way as would not require their removal. The proposal was rejected by the Health Ministry officials.


According to one estimate, the removal of the graves will commence as early as next Sunday.


The Barzilai ER construction plans were approved more than a year and a half ago and their implementation only awaits the relocation of the graves.


The ultra-Orthodox website Behadrei Haredim posted an invitation calling on the haredi public to organize a protest. Meanwhile, the Atra Kadisha organization heading the struggle against the graves' removal is coordinating a meeting in Jerusalem to decide on future steps.


Meital Yasur-Beit Or, Attila Somfalvi and Kobi Nahshoni contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 05.09.10, 20:54
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