Jews to work on Shabbat to enable Muslims to respect Islam?

Decision to open Abu Kabir Forensics Institute on Shabbat to accommodate Muslims is not just offensive; it's also illegal, says MK Avi Maoz.

Hezki Baruch ,

Abu Kabir Forensics Institute
Abu Kabir Forensics Institute

The head of the Noam party, Religious Zionism MK Avi Maoz, has submitted a petition to the Attorney-General, Dr. Avichai Mandelblit, asking that he review the legality of the decision of the Health Minister, Nitzan Horowitz, to open the Abu Kabir Forensics Institute on Shabbat and Jewish festivals.

Last week, Horowitz decided that in response to requests from Arab MKs, he would order Abu Kabir to remain open seven days a week. The Arab MKs had complained of delays in the processing of bodies and their release for burial, a common complaint over past years, given that the Institute is the sole body authorized to conduct autopsies in the entire country.

Immediately following Horowitz’s decision, MK Uri Maklev (UTJ) pointed out that when he was asked to permit the Institute to operate during night hours in order to expedite its procedures, Horowitz ignored the request; when he was instead asked to consider the possibility of work on Shabbat, he immediately assented and a draft bill was prepared, which was presented for a preliminary vote in the Knesset on Wednesday.

The bill, proposed by MKs Walid Taha, Mansour Abbas, and Mazen Ghanaim, passed with 62 Knesset members in favor and 46. The proposal now passes to Knesset committee.

According to MK Avi Maoz, Horowitz’s decision is not just objectionable due to religious reasons – it is actually illegal, and he wants to see it reversed.

“The Health Minister has announced that he is ordering employees of the Forensics Institute at Abu Kabir to work on weekends, which contravenes the established procedure,” Maoz wrote in his letter to Attorney-General Mandelblit. “This decision was made following a request made by the United Arab List, which is part of the current coalition, in order to make things easier for families of murder victims in the Arab sector who can only bury their relatives after an autopsy has been conducted.

“As your honor is aware,” Maoz continued, “the Hours of Work and Rest Law clearly delineates which government institutions are permitted to operate on Shabbat and Jewish festivals as well as their prescribed manner of operation.”

Maoz then clarified that according to the Hours of Work and Rest Law, the Abu Kabir Institute is required to close on Shabbat and festivals and may only open in cases of emergency. “The procedures conducted at the Abu Kabir Forensics Institute are on a par with those conducted at hospital outpatient clinics or at local health clinics,” Maoz noted, “and according to the Law (except for in cases of emergency such as a mass-casualty event G-d forbid), they are required to remain closed on Shabbat. In cases where it is necessary for Institute employees to work outside the Institute’s premises, they already have supplementary staff on standby to assist as required,” he added.

In conclusion, Maoz requested Mandelblit to issue his response as a matter of urgency: “In light of the above, I ask that you issue an urgent legal opinion regarding the legality of Health Minister Horowitz’s order to force the employees of the Abu Kabir Institute to work on Shabbat and festivals in a manner that infringes upon their basic right to rest.”