Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

16 Iyar 5761 - May 9, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Rabbi Gafni Prevents Excavations in Burial Caves Near Elad
by Betzalel Kahn and A. Cohen

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.


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