Israel’s Supreme Court sides with ultra-Orthodox family, denies autopsy for 4-year-old

Haredi family wins court battle to prevent an autopsy on the body of a four-year-old boy reportedly killed by a relative.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Israel’s Supreme Court granted an emergency petition filed by a Haredi family on Monday, preventing the autopsy of a four-year-old boy who is believed to have been killed by a relative over the weekend.

The boy, who is from a Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) family, was brought to a Jerusalem hospital on Saturday after reportedly being choked by his uncle. He died several hours later.

Widespread protests broke out across major Haredi enclaves throughout Israel on Sunday and Monday after police announced that they would seek to perform an autopsy on the body of the boy. Hebrew-language media reported that during the demonstrations, some protesters in Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh, B’nei Brak and Modi’in Ilit, blocked traffic, burned garbage and tires, and threw projectiles at police.

At least five protesters were arrested.

Autopsies are forbidden under Jewish law, as they are considered to be desecration or defilement of the deceased.

Jewish law also dictates that the dead be buried as quickly as possible, so the time needed to perform an autopsy is another major challenge posed by the procedure.

However, authorities in Israel do occasionally perform autopsies in cases of foul play, and the police are generally able to obtain court rulings paving the way for the procedure, even when it’s against the wishes of the deceased’s family.

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The four-year-old boy’s family had immediately objected to the prospect of an autopsy, but a local court ruled in favor of the police.

The family subsequently filed an urgent appeal to the Supreme Court to prevent the autopsy, which was granted.

According to a Ynet report, protesters blocking a major intersection in Jerusalem “danced joyously” and removed barricades after learning of the decision to prevent the autopsy.

Following the Supreme Court ruling, the burial in Jerusalem was scheduled for Monday afternoon.

The main suspect in the case, the 27-year-old uncle of the victim, is believed to suffer from mental illness.