Battle for Barzilai Begins: Badatz Calls for Protests, Ashkelon Mayor Readies to Fight Chareidim

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protest-barzilaiA day after Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced that Barzilai Medical Center’s fortified emergency room in Ashkelon will be built according to plan – despite the discovery of ancient kevorim in its intended  location which will be moved – the Badatz of the Eidah Hachareidis in Yerushalayim announced mass protests to stand up for the kavod of the niftarim expected to be relocated to a new burial spot.

 Netanyahu, in his capacity as acting health minister, has ordered the kevorim to be relocated.

The posek hador, Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, was quoted weeks ago as telling Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman that moving the kevorim involves halachic concerns. Rav Elyashiv, the Badatz members and other rabbonim have said that the 90-million shekel construction project does not constitute pikuach nefesh and should be halted because of bones of Jewish bodies said to be at the site. Rabbi Litzman has said that the bones found on the site, based on his research, are Jewish bones – a claim backed up by Asra Kadisha – and thus, as per the psak, cannot be moved according to halacha.

The plans include building a rocket- and missile-proof new emergency room at Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center.

 Eyal Gabai, director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, has said that “we will make sure to relocate the graves with the utmost respect. The new ER will go up as planned.”

Plans to build a new, fortified emergency room for Ashkelon’s medical center have been discussed for years. The project, though, was put on hold after initial work at the new ER’s location uncovered the ancient burial site.

Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman promptly suspended construction, and three weeks ago, the government voted 11 to 10 to move the new ER to a different location.

The relocation project, which was going to cost Israel millions, sparked mass public criticism, especially toward the chareidi community and Litzman, eventually leading the government to entrust Netanyahu with the final decision on the matter.

Following the decision, Netanyahu said he hoped his coalition would prove stable, telling his associates that he wished to continue his cooperation with the Yahadus Hatorah party.

In the meantime, the Badatz, following a meeting last night, has called for protests against the decision of the Prime Minister.

The Yahadus Hatorah party has not decided how to act in response to the Prime Minister’s decision, but the Badatz and others are preparing huge demonstrations. Both sides are preparing for what is expected to be a public, difficult struggle.

Arrangements have been made with a number of bus companies to transport hundreds of protesters to the Barzilai hospital area. Demonstrations are expected to begin as early as the end of this week and the beginning of next week, as activists are also working on getting signatures from rabbonim around the country to protests the moving of the kevorim.

There are those working on arranging demonstrations outside the embassies of Israel in the U.S. and London as well.
The Barzilai Medical Center has said that it welcomed the decision of Netanayahu and is actually awaiting breaking ground.

Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin is openly ready for war with the chareidim, relishing the chance to battle the Torah community.

 “We must not let a handful of chareidi extremists dictate our lives,” the Mayor said.

The Mayor’s attitude reflects that of many city residents and chilonim around the country. The chareidi-secular battle will be heating up once again.

{Yair Israel}


  1. So much of this question seems to be, he thought, they said, it could be……

    ‘moving the kevorim involves halachic concerns’.-Halachic concerns does NOT mean it is forbidden to move them…

  2. They didn’t care when Jewish bodies were exhumed from Gush Katif, so why do they care now? Where’s the consistency in their approach?

  3. This is assuredly Klal Yisroel’s most pressing problem (after having addressed & solved all the living’s concerns).

  4. We must respect the bodies, regardless, whether they’re Yiddishe or not Yiddishe.

    We as Bnei Torah, must distance ourselves from the thought process of that Malchus Horishoh in Eretz Ashkenaz in 1939, who used to differentiate between bodies of Yidden and bodies of Non-Yidden.

    We know that every person, Yid or Non-Yid, has a Chelek in Olom Haboh.

  5. #3 is right. Can anyone explain the differance?

    If it’s halachacaly incorrect to have remains moved, then how come there were no protests or complaints when the kevarim in Gush Katif were moved?

  6. To Comment 3:
    Gush Katif was a descision made by live people, with the knowledge that it could possibly incite others. That being the case, the Gedolim can’t stop someone when they want to do something risky. I am sure it hurt the Gedolim when the Katif-niks MOVED IN, since they would be made to leave soon. In contrast he Niftarim’s Kavod is dependent on our reaction to protect them when necessary. Since they cannot protest the travesty being committed against them.

  7. To comment #8
    You talk like an NK. They didn’t move there to incite anybody. They moved ther because they wanted to settle the land, the yset up legal communities there, not outpost and didn’t dream the government would expell them.

    In addition the dead bodies that were exhumed in Gush Katif were dependent on human intervention too. They cannot defend themselves.

    So is it or isn’t it halachically correct to exhume remains, or are there different shittas regarding this inyun? Can someone enlighten us?

  8. Your Logic is good, and you probably have an ethical way of thinking.

    But the Psak was clearly written, that they should only be careful not to distroy the Yiddishe bodies. (See Paragraph #3)

  9. I would have thought that those who read this blog would care about halacha.

    The halacha is VERY clear on this point: Graves, Jewsih or not, may be moved for the sake of public welfare.

    We have no idea how the situation at Barzilai was represented to these Gedolim, other than knowing that they did not speak to anyone other than the askanim/politicians.

  10. If it’s halachacaly incorrect to have remains moved, then how come there were no protests or complaints when the kevarim in Gush Katif were moved?

    Forget the moving of the GushKatif graves, the bigger question is: where was the Charedi community to honor them at their second burial?


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