• Short Summary

    INTRODUCTION: For many people history began in ancient Israel and some of the world's greatest archaeological discoveries have been made there, leading to a better understanding of the past.

  • Description

    GV PAN Old City, Jerusalem TO people digging at undisputed site 0.07
    SV & SV PAN Men and women at work on site using various instruments (picks, hoes) to clear rubble (2 shots) 0.26
    SCU Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren with associates protesting to wife of chief archaeologist, Mrs. Yigael Shilo (3 shots) 0.47
    GV Protesters gathered in street as several younger protesters throw bricks 0.53
    GV Mounted policeman directing pedestrians away from protest 0.57
    Gv & SV PAN Person throwing rock, and rock landing at other end of street 1.05
    Sv & GVs Riot police taking control and clearing a protester away (4 shots) 1.20
    GV PAN Riot police clearing street 1.28
    GV PAN Controversial site showing ruins where digging halted 1.36
    GV PAN & SVs Vandalised graves of Theodore Herzel and Ben Zvi with graffiti 1.53

    InitialsBB Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: INTRODUCTION: For many people history began in ancient Israel and some of the world's greatest archaeological discoveries have been made there, leading to a better understanding of the past. But, ironically, it is because of the past the future archaeological explorations in Israel are in jeopardy. Devout Jews deploring interference with Jewish graves have brought a halt to work at the country's most important site, and they are putting pressure on the Israeli government to clamp down on more excavation. The argument has led to rioting in the streets of Jerusalem.

    SYNOPSIS: The disputed dig is at the site of the City of David and Solomon, near Jerusalem's old city. An archaeological team from the Hebrew University has official permission to work there but has failed to achieve much because of repeated disruptions by ultra-orthodox Jews. They allege the excavation is near a site which was a Jewish graveyard 400 years ago.

    Jerusalem's Chief Rabbi, Mr. Schlomo Goren, has added his prestige to the protesters by leading a deputation to the site. He spoke to the wife of Dr. Yigael Shilo, leader of the archaeological team, but disagreement flared.

    On Thursday (6 August), the feeling of the ultra-orthodox Jews erupted into violence in the capital's Mea She'arim quarter, near the City of David and Solomon site. More than 100 protesters threw rocks at police and passing pedestrians, overturned garbage cans and blocked the roadway with a barricade of rocks. At one stage, riot police used tear gas to try to restore order.

    The ultra-orthodox Jews are not normally given to such undignified behaviour, but now claim they'll continue their protests until they are satisfied. The government has temporarily halted digging while the situation is reviewed.

    The protesters underlined the seriousness of their intent by vandalising these graves, one of them the grave of Theodore Herzl, founder of modern Zionism. But in Israel archaeology is a national pastime, and it is the archaeologists' side which has popular support.

    ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Growing pressure on archaeologists will be reinforce by Clause 45 of the Coalition agreement between Prime Minister Begin and the three religious parties. The clause states "the law forbidding excavations at grave sites will be strictly enforce".

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