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Police Arrest Group of Ultra-orthodox Following Rioting at Excavation Sites

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Israeli police arrested some 25 fervently Orthodox Jews in the Jaffa quarter of Tel Aviv this week after a demonstration against archaeological excavations turned into a riot.

The demonstration involving more than 100 people turned violent on Wednesday when protesters began attacking the police.

Some of the protesters also overturned a jeep belonging to the Antiquities Authority.

Most of those arrested were released by Wednesday evening, but a few were held in custody for further questioning.

The manager of the site, Yossi Levy, said the demonstration will not prevent continued work on the dig.

Religious groups frequently have held protests at archaeological sites in recent months, claiming that the remains being dug up were those of Jews.

But archaeologists at the Jaffa site say the graves being investigated are those of Muslims and Christians dating back to the Byzantine period.

A yeshiva student was arrested two weeks ago for allegedly stealing bones from the site after tying up and beating a guard.

The excavations are being carried out prior to the construction of several hundred new apartment buildings in Jaffa.

Archaeologists are concerned that the construction will destroy all remaining artifacts at the site.

The excavations in Jaffa, like those elsewhere in Israel, are permitted by the attorney general.

But permission is only granted on the condition that if human remains are found at any excavation sites, they will be transferred to the Religious Affairs Ministry for examination and burial.

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