State to High Court: A Decision Regarding Barzilai Within 2 Weeks

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The state on Wednesday, in its response to the High Court of Justice regarding the construction of the fortified emergency room of Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon, promised a decision within two weeks.

The state was responding to a petition demanding a response as to why the government is not moving ahead with the fortified unit of the hospital, capable of withstanding rocket attacks. The project enjoys the approval of the nation’s chief rabbis despite the need to exhume bodies and relocate a cemetery, as was reported earlier in the week by YWN-Israel (http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/article.php?p=49967). The state asked to dismiss the petition in light of a pending final decision regarding the NIS 185 million project.

The government in June 2007 decided on the project, realizing Barzilai was a major regional hospital, and as was seen during Operation Cast Lead, it is situated in rocket range from Gaza. In 2008, when the project got underway, the graves were discovered. At the time, the chief rabbis ruled the graves may be relocated.

In comes Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, who seems to adhere to the ruling of Gedolei Yisrael Shlita, not the Chief Rabbis Shlita, telling Barzilai to move ahead with the alternate plan, a few hundred meters away, to construct the fortified addition in the area now serving as a parking lot. Litzman insists that if no alternate plan was feasible, he would agree the graves may be moved but since this is not the case, he cannot permit moving ahead at the original location.

Hospital officials and the organization of hospital directors reject this, explaining the logistics simply do not work regarding the transfer of patients from the new wing to the hospital units among other problems, including additional costs.

Representing the state, attorney Uri Keidar wrote the matter is “extremely sensitive and we cannot be certain that the graves that must be moved are not Jewish graves”. The state asked to dismiss the petition, maintaining it should not be subjected to judicial decision-making, especially since the state is reaching a final decision in the coming weeks.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)