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Court Orders the State to Reply Regarding Barzilai Fortification

The Supreme Court on Wednesday instructed the state to respond within 60 days as to why work if not moving ahead towards the construction of a fortified wing for Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon.

The court was responding to a petition filed by residents of the city, who are calling on the appropriate government authority to exhume the cemetery to another location to clear the way for the construction. The petitioners explain the fortified wing, including an emergency room and underground surgical suites, is essential in light of rocket attacks from Gaza in the past.

Former Minister of Religious Affairs Cohen halted the project in 2008, and his successor, Minister Margi is in agreement, explaining gedolei yisrael do not permit building on the site where bodies were discovered because an alternate site does exist. Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman is also opposed to exhuming the graves, explaining there is no reason to build the fortified wing on the alternate site that exists.

Attorneys Gad Peled, Eliad Cohen and Yehoshua Kramer told the court that the government has approved the construction, citing the need to provide a fortified unit for the hospital, and the relocation of the kevarim has the approval of the chief rabbis, explaining they realize the pikuach nefesh issue, and the need to move the graves.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)

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