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Uproar In Israel As Religious Status Quo Is Violated Due To Arab MKs’ Request

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) announced on Sunday that he has instructed the directors of the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Abu Kabir to extend the institutes’s working hours to Shabbos and Yamim Tovim to allow forensic autopsies to be performed on those days.

Horowitz issued the instructions after receiving a request from MKs from Ra’am and the Joint Arab List who requested to allow autopsies on Saturdays to make it easier for Muslim families who have to wait until after Shabbos for their relatives to receive autopsies.

Horowitz wrote in a tweet: “Another one of the issues that no one wanted to touch for years, created extra suffering for families during their most difficult times. We saw this after the terrible tragedy in Meron and whenever a Muslim family couldn’t bury a family member according to their religious practice – because Abu Kabir is closed on Shabbos. There is no justification for this. I instructed that it be opened on Shabbos and Chagim.”

UTJ MK Uri Maklev responded to the announcement  by stating: “Abu Kabir is part of the governmental system of the state of Israel and its status is like any branch of the government or government bureau closed on Shabbos Kodesh. The significance of this decision is that the workers will be forced to work on Shabbos. [Horowitz] failed to respond to the request to open Abu Kabir at night but to open it on Shabbos – he responded. This is not an issue of emergency medicine but forensic medicine after death. Before the Health Minister tends to the dead, he should take action to minimize deaths by tending to the hospitals that are on the verge of the collapse and fixing his failures in managing the coronavirus crisis.”

UTJ chairman Moshe Gafni wrote: “I very much hope that the religious ministers and MKs in the coalition won’t allow this to happen and won’t enable Nitzan Horowitz to change the character of the Jewish state and cause chillul Shabbos Kodesh when there is no issue of pikuach nefesh.”

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

One Response

  1. When the situation was reversed in London some years ago and the Coroner refused to release bodies for burial on their days of rest and holidays there was rightly an uproar and the Jews (and Muslims) in London eventually succeeded in getting satisfaction. IMHO we should certainly try to accommodate Islamic religious needs in this very important matter. Is there any way the center can be staffed by non-Jews on Shabbos?

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