Remember the controversy of the emergency room at Ashkelon’s Barzilai Hospital? It was a saga of politics, war and religion that just a few months ago looked as if it could destabilize Israel’s government.
In 2008 engineers started preparing the ground for a new $120 million wing. It would have an underground bunker with wards for 300 patients and a large rocket-proof emergency room — important as the hospital serves the Israeli communities closest to the Gaza border. But then the constructors struck a piece of history, an ancient cemetery, and arguing it was too sacred to disturb, Israel’s Haredi community tried everything it could to stop building: public campaigns, protests and strong pressure inside government from the United Torah Judaism party. It ultimately failed, but managed to delay construction for two years.
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