Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Burials at a construction site in Jerusalem

AGAIN, A GRAVE MATTER: Israel Nixes Excavation of Ancient Jerusalem Burial Site in Area Slated for Homes. Antiques Authority forced to leave site after Shas leader Arye Dery raised issue with Netanyahu, who ordered that work be stopped (Yair Ettinger, Haaretz).
Under pressure from the ultra-Orthodox Knesset factions, the Israel Antiquities Authority on Tuesday stopped its excavation of ancient burial caves in an area slated for a new residential neighborhood in south Jerusalem. The caves were discovered in the neighborhood of Gilo, in an area where 708 apartments are to be built, about half of them for ultra-Orthodox families.

The halakhic and financial issues are complex and contentious:
Out of the 708 apartments, 354 have been allocated to ultra-Orthodox associations. According to ultra-Orthodox sources, a compromise was suggested by which the developers would forego the apartments on the first floor and the buildings would be built on pillars, which is an acceptable solution under Jewish law. The developers reportedly agreed to the idea, on condition that they be compensated by the Construction Ministry. The Construction Ministry meanwhile has refused to compensate the developers.

According to officials familiar with the details, the antiquities authority decided to leave the site Tuesday due to Dery’s request from Netanyahu, which led to the latter ordering that work be stopped in an attempt to reach a compromise.
Past posts on similar situations are here, here, and here. And there's this. We're clearly dealing with some historically crowded real estate. And this seems relevant too.