Machinery at Barzilai ER construction site sabotaged
New emergency room at Ashkelon hospital continues to draw fire. Unknown assailants pour sugar into engine's fuel tanks, halting work at site; police arrest haredi man suspected of harassing head of organization involved in relocating ancient graves
The contractor working on the construction of the fortified emergency room at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon filed a complaint with police on Wednesday claiming machinery at the site was damaged. Work at the site was halted and Ashkelon Police launched an investigation. Police suspect haredim opposed to construction at the site because of the ancient graves found there were behind the act.
According to the complaint, at around 5 am, unknown assailants damaged the machinery used to carry out construction works. They allegedly put sugar in the engines' fuel pumps, clogging them and causing damage. The hospital's management filed a complaint with the police. Dr. Shimon Scharf, the hospital's director, informed the Health Ministry's director-general of the incident.
Construction at the site only recently began after a two-week delay caused by a sycamore tree at the site. The Jewish National Fund and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority moved the tree to another location on the hospital's grounds at the cost of NIS 100,000 (roughly $26,000).
Infrastructure works recently began, including the excavation of deep underground tunnels to connect the new wing to the hospital. According to hospital sources, the delay in foundation works will delay the rest of the work at the hospital.
Relocating graves at hospital (Archive photo: Tsafrir Abayov)
On Tuesday, ultra-Orthodox elements circulated a statement saying a curse they put on Israel Antiquities Authority Director-General Shuka Dorfman landed his wife in hospital. They said the curse was placed following the relocation of graves from the site. Even after the graves were moved, there were reports of attempts by haredi elements to disrupt works at the site. Security guards blocked them from nearing the grounds.
The International Crimes Investigation Unit on Tuesday arrested a 23-year-old haredi man from Jerusalem suspected of harassing Dorfman. In recent months, haredim have protested outside the homes of IAA workers, mainly against construction on Andromeda Hill in Jaffa.
The 23-year-old was arrested for trespassing and disturbing the peace when he paid a visit to the IAA director-general's home. Tuesday's arrest was the first in the affair, and police are collecting information on potential suspects and say they plan to detain additional suspects for harassing public officials.
Eli Senyor contributed to this report
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