Death of baby prompts haredi rioting against court-ordered autopsy

The four-month-old baby suffered severe brain damage allegedly as the result of being shaken by a care giver.

The Jerusalem Post/January 8, 2016

The young baby of a haredi family who was hospitalized last week following injuries sustained at a day-care center has died, prompting violent demonstrations by radical elements of the haredi community against an autopsy ordered by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court.

The baby, Moshe Refael, was a grandson of Mayor of Beit Shemesh Moshe Abutbul.

The four-month-old baby suffered severe brain damage allegedly as the result of being shaken by a care giver and died at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem on Thursday morning, 10 days after he was admitted for treatment.

Dozens of radical haredi men protested violently during the course of Thursday afternoon when the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ordered that an autopsy of the deceased child be conducted to determine the cause of death.

The family of the child appealed to the Supreme Court to overturn the magistrate court’s decision however due to the restrictions in Jewish law against autopsies in cases which will not help save other lives.

At the same time, president of the radical Edah Haredit communal organization Rabbi Yitzhak Tuviah Weiss called on his followers to protest the decision.

Protesters took to the central Kikar Shabbat thoroughfare in the haredi neighborhood of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem early Thursday afternoon to demonstrate, blocking traffic, burning trash cans and throwing stones at police forces who arrived at the scene.

The protests and violent confrontations with the police continued into the late afternoon with traffic blocked for several hours. Mounted police and water cannons were eventually deployed to disperse the rioters.

Haredi men also sought to block traffic in Beit Shemesh in protest against the autopsy, and engaged in violent confrontations with police.

The police made ten arrests during the riot in Jerusalem and another 3 arrests were made during the protest in Beit Shemesh.

In light of the riots, the Zaka organization arranged for an MRI scan to be conducted on the body to try and determine the cause of death without an autopsy. The Supreme Court was expected to rule by the early evening whether or not an autopsy would need to be conducted following the MRI scan.

Judy Siegel contributed to this article.

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