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Last updated at 14:18 BST, Monday, 17 May 2010

Jewish disturbances over graves


17 May 2010

Members of Jerusalem's conservative Jewish community closed the main road through the city while protesting about very old graves being moved to allow a hospital emergency room to be built.

Paul Wood

Jewish protester

A Jewish man in front of the protest


Click to hear the report:


Burning rubbish skips blocked the way for traffic through Mea Sherim, the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish religious neighbourhood of Jerusalem, overnight. The disturbances were small-scale but briefly closed the main road through the city as well. Israeli police made a few arrests and also deployed a water cannon but for the most part they pulled back.

The Ultra-Orthodox were protesting over a decision by the Israeli government to build a new hospital casualty room on the site of some ancient graves. Archaeologists say the bones might well be pagan but the Orthodox say they are Jewish and the graves are being desecrated.

The protest seems to be over, the demonstrators accepting that the hospital project will now go ahead. Members of the Orthodox community did however deny reports that they had put a curse on the Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Reports in the Israeli press said that the curse in question wasn't designed to inflict mortal injury but, rather, would only invoke enough divine wrath to "chop off the hands" of the involved in disturbing the graves.

Paul Wood, BBC News, Jerusalem


Click to hear the vocabulary:


rubbish skips

very large containers for waste or things that are no longer wanted or needed


very conservative or strict

deployed a water cannon

used a device which sends out a powerful stream of water and is often used to scatter large groups of people

pulled back

didn't advance or attack

casualty room

area of a hospital which deals with accident or emergency injuries

the bones might well be pagan

the remains of the dead people buried there could be of people who lived in a time before modern organised religions existed

the graves are being desecrated

the places where dead bodies are put are being not treated properly or with enough respect

put a curse on

used magic words to bring bad luck to someone

to inflict mortal injury

to kill people

invoke enough divine wrath

make God or a god very angry

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