Jewish cemetery turned into garbage dump

After state builds highway cutting Jewish town of Yarhiv off from its cemetery, Arabs desecrate site, dump garbage and drugs there.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

garbage, drugs dumped at Yarhiv cemetery
garbage, drugs dumped at Yarhiv cemetery
Gali Margalit

Or Yehuda Chief Rabbi Tzion Cohen visited the cemetery in Moshav Yarhiv last week, together with Rabbi Eliezer Simcha Weiss, a member of the Chief Rabbinate Council.

"For about ten minutes we drove through the alleys of Jaljulia until we reached a dead end at the end of a construction site. We had to get off the road and go up to a dirt path to enter the cemetery," Rabbi Weiss told reporter Dvir Amar from the Shvi'i newspaper.

"It's hard to see a Jewish cemetery becoming a place where drug addicts hang out," said Rabbi Cohen. "The desolation there is horrible, and people have stopped burying their loved ones in the cemetery." The dismal situation has additional consequences, as Yehoram Goli, chairman of the Yarhiv municipal council, described.

"This year I did not go up to my father's grave. Residents of Jaljulia desecrate the graves and use the cemetery yard as a landfill. Just a few months ago I cleared away a broken tractor they had thrown there. The mourners are afraid to bury their dead there, and the lack of access prevents them from on a regular basis. The residents have to spend thousand of shekels to bury their loved ones somewhere else because they can't bury them in the town cemetery," Goli said.

According to the report by Shvi'i, the current situation began with the contstruction of Route 6, which separates Yarhiv and Jaljulia. Now the Interior Ministry is seeking to transfer control of the land the cemetery sits on to the Jaljulia municipality.

Drom HaSharon Regional Council chairman Oshrat Ganei Gonen said: "We are attentive to the plight of the residents and want to help, but this week I learned that the Interior Ministry's boundaries committee wants to transfer the cemetery to Jaljulia's jurisdiction."

The residents of Yarhiv decided to establish a new cemetery on private agricultural land. The new cemetery was constructed using their own money.

"The committee asked for permission to prepare land in the area near the moshav. A family whose loved one died due to illness, decided to bury their loved one in the area they wanted to prepare."

Inspectors from the Israel Land Authority arrived at the scene with orders to stop work on the new cemetery. The case is currently being heard in court. "Residents of Yarhiv have worked to establish a cemetery within the moshav in an illegal manner, when it is not possible to allocate this area for the purpose of a cemetery," the Israel Land Authority stated. "The Central District of the Israel Land Authority is currently promoting a plan to build a series of cemeteries, one of which - in Neve Yamin - will include about 150,000 grave sites and will provide a solution [for the residents]. A special plot will be allocated there for the moshav."

"The establishment of the new cemetery costs NIS 200 million, and we have no way to pay compensation for the expropriation of 180 dunams from Moshav Neve Yemin. We expect the state that built Route 6 to provide us with compensation and that it will, at its own expense, move the Yarhiv cemetery to the new cemetery," Gonen said.

Rabbi Weiss called on the Chief Rabbinate to take action. "How is it possible that the Israel Land Authority allocates land to an Arab city and Jews are unable to reach the place safely? Is it our duty to issue a halakhic ruling prohibiting burial in the old cemetery, due to the danger to human life? Or do we have to dig up the dozens of people who have already been buried there to move them to a safer location?"

The Chief Rabbinate said in a statement: "Rabbi Weiss has issued a letter on the issue as member of the Chief Rabbinate Council, and the issue will G-d willing be resolved."

The Israel Police stated that no complaint has been filed yet on the matter.