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June 16, 2005
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Israel’s chief rabbis ruled that Israelis buried in the Gaza Strip may be exhumed as part of the upcoming withdrawal. In a letter to the Prime Minister’s Office, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger and Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar said that removing 48 bodies from the Gush Katif cemetery is permissible once no Jews remain in Gaza, as leaving them would invite vandalism of the graves. The ruling disappointed settler leaders who had hoped the chief rabbis would lend their voices more strongly to right-wing opposition to the looming withdrawals from Gaza and the northern West Bank. Speaking to Channel Two television, Amar said he believed the Mount of Olives cemetery, the most sacred Jewish cemetery in Jerusalem, is the appropriate place for Gaza settlers’ dead to be reinterred.

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