Haredim return snatched body to police
Group of ultra-Orhtodox men agrees to give back corpse of woman found in Mea Shearim in return for promise from police to avoid autopsy
Efrat Weiss • Ynet
A body of a woman snatched by a group of ultra-Orthodox men on Wednesday evening has been returned to the Jerusalem Police. The corpse was found in an abandoned building in the capital's Mea Shearim neighborhood and was snatched by several haredim, most likely due to their objection to an autopsy.
At around 7:30 pm, the police and Magen David Adom emergency services received a report about a woman in her 20s found in an abandoned building in the haredi neighborhood. An MDA ambulance arrived in the area and paramedics attempted to resuscitate the woman, but were forced to proclaim her dead.
A police car was dispatched to the area as well, and an initial investigation revealed that the death was likely not the result of a criminal incident.
But the affair did not end there. Dozens of haredim arrived in the area and, according to the police, began assaulting the policemen, caused damage to their car, grabbed the body and escaped. Additional police forces were dispatched to the area to help locate the corpse.
Three hours later, with the help of the ZAKA rescue unit, the body was transferred to a policeman's house, where it was examined in order to ensure that the death was not caused by a criminal act.
The police reached an understanding with the Eda Haredit organization that the corpse would not undergo an autopsy.
"ZAKA commander in Jerusalem Bentzi Oring arrived to handle the body, but was also beaten and pushed by those violent people, although these actions contradict the Halacha and respect of the dead," ZAKA spokesman Moti Bukjin told Ynet.
ZAKA officials said that Oring used his connections with the police and among extreme elements in the haredi sector in order to reach an arrangement with the body snatchers.
"He arrived with a ZAKA ambulance to the hideout and took the body. According to the arrangement, as long as there are no suspicions of a criminal act, the body will not undergo an autopsy and will be buried as early as tonight," Bukjin said, adding that the organization was shocked by the violent struggle.
'Stretcher march of 30 haredim'
Shalom Galil, an MDA paramedic, told Ynet that "it all began with a cause of a 25-year-old unconscious woman. We arrived in the area, tried to resuscitate her, but eventually proclaimed her dead… We waited for a doctor to prepare a death certificate, when a large crowd of haredim began gathering outside."
"We didn't say anything to them, but they found out that it was a woman and were concerned about an autopsy. The atmosphere heated up and I informed the policeman inside about the situation and asked him to call for help, but the help was delayed. In the meantime, ZAKA arrived to take the body outside," he said.
What happened next was defined by the paramedic as "surrealistic".
"I did not see the body snatched from the policeman. He said he was hit in the face, pushed down and that the corpse was snatched on a stretcher. I looked outside and saw a stretcher march of 30 haredim running with a covered body. They shouted, 'The daughters of Israel will not be deserted.'"
According to the paramedic, "It was a well planned operation."
This is not the first time that a death in the capital leads to a conflict between the police and the haredi community. In August, dozens of ultra-Orhtodox men rioted following a man's murder and tried to prevent the removal of the body for autopsy purposes.
The haredim hurled stones and iron at the police, who responded with shock grenades. Eight policemen and one citizen were lightly injured, and a police car and two motorcycles were damaged.