Burial site construction sparks ultra-Orthodox protests
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Burial site construction sparks ultra-Orthodox protests

Demonstrators burn garbage cans, block roads as building begins in a compound near Beit Shemesh said to contain ancient Jewish graves

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Police officers face off with ultra-Orthodox protesters in Beit Shemesh on Monday, Aug 12 (image capture: Channel 2)
Police officers face off with ultra-Orthodox protesters in Beit Shemesh on Monday, Aug 12 (image capture: Channel 2)

Riots broke out Monday at several locations throughout Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh, as ultra-Orthodox demonstrators protested against the start of a construction project at a site near Ramat Beit Shemesh that was located, they claim, atop ancient Jewish burial caves.

Police said 29 ultra-Orthodox demonstrators were arrested in Beit Shemesh after setting fire to a number of garbage containers and blocking main roads in the city.

Protesters at the scene also set fire to a forest adjacent to the construction site. Firefighting crews that arrived at the scene were pelted with stones by demonstrators, police said.

Riots also erupted in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea Shearim, with demonstrators torching garbage cans and throwing rocks at passing vehicles. According to the police, a number of protesters began hurling stones at a bus, forcing the driver to deviate off course and take a different route.

The violent protests flared up ahead of the beginning of construction at the “Golobinzitz compound” in Ramat Beit Shemesh, where hundreds of apartments for young ultra-Orthodox families are set to be built.

An ultra-Orthodox protester is dragged by a police officer at a construction site said to contain ancient Jewish graves, August 12, 2013 (photo credit: screen cap Channel 2 News)
An ultra-Orthodox protester is dragged by a police officer at a construction site said to contain ancient Jewish graves, August 12, 2013 (photo credit: screen cap Channel 2 News)

Last year, the religious group “Atra Kadisha” claimed that the construction site was situated on top of an ancient Jewish graveyard and called for the terminate of the project in order to prevent the “desecration of tombs.”

Last week, Haredi businessman Aryeh Golobinzitz, one of the project’s managers, was beaten in his Jerusalem home by a number of men who identified as members of Atra Kadisha.

Golobinzitz suffered from body wounds and was rushed to a nearby hospital.

Police officials told the ultra-Orthodox news site Kikar Hashabbat Monday that despite the protests, construction at the Golobinzitz compound will continue as planned.

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