Anonymous Vandals Sabotage Equipment at Ashkelon's Barzilai Hospital

Building site of new emergency room at the hospital has stirred anger in the ultra-Orthodox community as human remains had to be relocated to facilitate the building.

Anonymous vandals on Wednesday destroyed building equipment at the site of a future emergency room in Ashkelon that has stirred controversy among the ultra-Orthodox community as it used to be a grave site.

Throughout the month of May, many in the ultra-Orthodox community demonstrated and rioted to protest the relocation of human remains that would facilitate the new emergency room at Barzilai Medical Center.

Ashkelon's Barzilai Medical Center
Ilan Asayag

The building contractor in Ashkelon arrived at the building site on Wednesday morning to find that the engines on four pieces of his machinery were dead. Sugar had been poured into the machineries' gas tank, the contractor reported, rendering them unusable.

He has since filed a complaint with Ashkelon police and stopped all work on the site.

Ashkelon police visited the building site and opened an investigation into the incident.

"We take this report very seriously," the police said. "We are checking all angles in our investigation, including the authorities who opposed the construction of the emergency room due to the need to relocate graves."

On May 16, close to 700 Haredim took part in a demonstration in Jerusalem organized by the Eda Haredit sect, the extreme ultra-Orthodox faction that has been most vocal in its objection to the relocation of the human remains in Ashkelon. Jerusalem municipal employees were beaten by some protesters and 30 were arrested.

The violent demonstration resulted in the mayor cutting of municipal services to the neighborhood in Jerusalem where the demonstration took place.