Haredim riot after body found in youth hostel

Rioters clash with police to prevent autopsy of haredi male found dead in youth hostel.

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Tzvi Lev,

Haredi demonstrators
Haredi demonstrators
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Haredi opposition to an autopsy that was scheduled to be performed on a body awaiting burial in Jerusalem's Meah Shearim neighborhood deteriorated into an all-out battle between haredi rioters and police.

On Saturday, a haredi male was found dead of unknown reasons in a Jerusalem youth hostel. Rumors quickly spread that police were planning on seizing the body for an autopsy, which is forbidden by Jewish law in most cases.

As a result, an ambulance that arrived to take the body was faced with hundreds of haredi rioters blocking the streets with their bodies, throwing stones, and burning tires. Police were summoned and vainly attempted to disperse the riot to no avail. The violence only ended in the early hours of the morning after riot police arrived and deployed crowd control devices on the protesters, including tasers and flash-bang grenades.

As Jewish law prohibits autopsies, considered an affront to the dead unless rabbinic decision rules otherwise, the haredi community protest riot against the medical procedure was to be expected.

In 2016, haredim in Bet Shemesh and Meah Shearim took to the streets after a judge ordered an autopsy performed on a baby whom police suspected died as a result of being shaken by his parents.