Ultra-Orthodox Rioters in Jerusalem Protest Autopsy of Baby

Infant, who died of a head wound and may have been abused, is grandson of Beit Shemesh's ultra-Orthodox mayor.

Police arresting ultra-Orthodox Jewish protesters in Jerusalem's Shabbat Square, January 7, 2015.
Emil Salman

Police arrested 13 ultra-Orthodox demonstrators Thursday evening after rioters blocked neighborhood streets in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh to protest a court decision to conduct an autopsy of a baby who may have been shaken to death by his caretaker.

Meanwhile, firefighters were working to extinguish dozens of dumpsters that were set alight by rioters in the Geula, Mea She’arim and other neighborhoods in the capital, according to the Jerusalem's Fire and Rescue Authority.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish protesters in Jerusalem's Shabbat Square, January 7, 2015.
Emil Salman

The infant is the grandson of Beit Shemesh Mayor Moshe Abutbul. He died after 10 days in the ICU of Hadassah Medical Center's Ein Kerem Hospital. He had suffered a head injury in a day care center.

While he was hospitalized, police questioned his caretaker on suspicion that she had shaken him, causing brain damage. The caretaker asserted the baby had fallen after turning over during a diaper change. She was given a conditional release and is still under suspicion of neglect.

The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on Thursday granted the prosecution's request to conduct an autopsy. The family objected on religious grounds and Mayor Abutbul asked the judges not to grant the request because an autopsy is forbidden by Jewish law.

Michal Fattal

After the court issued its decision, Abutbul said, "The real torment is being done now with the feelings of the grieving family." The family has appealed to the Supreme Court to overturn the lower court's ruling.

A person close to the family told Haaretz that the family has nothing against the caretaker. "They just want to prevent additional suffering and bury the baby," he said.