Intervention by Rabbi Moshe Gafni prevented exhumation of
burial caves in the Kula Forest near Elad last week. The
Ministry of Defense announced that it would change the route
of the forest road which was supposed to be paved and would
have involved desecration of burial caves.
On 8 Iyar, activists of the Federation for the Desecration
of Graves learned that upon the request of the Defense
Ministry, the Antiquities Authority was planning to conduct
"rescue digs" in the Kula Forest region. The archaeologists
were supposed to execute this work early in the morning and
to empty all the burial sites at one go.
In the wake of this information, Rabbi Gafni asked the
Secretary of the Government Gideon Saar, to immediately
order cancellation of the excavations. Rabbi Gafni stressed
that according to the coalition agreement between UTJ and
the Likud, excavation of graves must be halted the moment
burial caves or bones are discovered and may not be resumed
until a solution is found. On Wednesday night, Saar spoke
with Defense Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer, who claimed that
he knew nothing about the matter.
Saar approached Education Minister Limor Livnat, who is
responsible for the Antiquities Authority. Livnat asked her
advisor to speak urgently to the Director of the Antiquities
Authority, Shmuel Dorfman. The advisor stated the Education
Minister's demand that the Antiquities Authority not
excavate the site until consultations were held.
On 9 Iyar, Saar informed the Chairman of the Domestic
Committee, Rabbi Gafni, that according to Defense Ministry
directives, the IDF has decided to change the proposed
route. Consequently, no graves need be damaged.
From a check conducted last week by Rabbi Micha Rothschild
of the Federation for the Prevention of the Desecration of
Graves, it became clear that the directive actually was sent
to the Antiquities Authority and its content also forwarded
to relevant parties in the Religious Affairs Ministry.