Site of dig
Photo: Tzafrir Abayov
Barzilai dig completed; police still on alert
Archeological work on disputed hospital emergency room site completed day after started. Pagan bones removed from graves. Measurements taken and findings listed for research purposes. Preparations made for laying infrastructure of fortified emergency room. Police prepared for haredi protest
Israel Antiquities Authority workers completed their archaeological work Monday in the Barzilai Medical Center complex in Ashkelon. Disinterment of the bones started Sunday, and provoked a wave of violent protest among extremist elements in the Eda Haharedit in Ashkelon, Jerusalem, and Jaffa.
In the coming hours, measurements will be taken at the hospital site for research purposes. Already on Monday, preparations were made for infrastructure to be laid for the fortified emergency room that will be built on the complex.
Protest in Jerusalem over graves (Photo: Noam Moskowitz)
The Antiquities Authority announced Sunday that all the findings from the site indicated that pagans, not Jews, were buried in the graves.
Archaeologists are continuing to collect the bones in cartons on Monday morning while meticulously recording their findings. The bones will be transferred to the Religious Affairs Ministry for burial in an alternative site.
All these activities have been undertaken on the backdrop of concerns for violent outbreaks by protesters opposed to the relocation of the graves. Police forces are still deployed around the site because of haredi threats to disrupt proceedings.
Throughout Sunday, 47 people were arrested in Ashkelon. Another 40 haredim were arrested in Jaffa. A number of municipal employees were struck during riots, which led the municipality to decree that it would not enter haredi neighborhoods "until the rage passes," according to Mayor Nir Barkat.