Update: the wali (governor) of Tangiers agreed to meet a delegation from the Jewish communities of Morocco on 22 April. He claimed that the proper procedures had been followed. The community had not been the object of discrimination, nor of expropriation. The choice of Passover for the demolition had been an 'unfortunate coincidence'. The Jewish community were still the owners of the land and the authorities would do nothing which might reduce the site's value. The community would be either compensated or permitted a new building. The cemeteries were not under threat and the authorities would put at the disposal of the community its resources to help maintain them. Finally the wali had decided to submit an immediate request for the cultural sites of the Jews of Tangier to be classified as national heritage in order to ensure their preservation.
Uncertainty has surrounded what role the Jewish community of Tangiers played in the affair of the Benchimol hospital, rased to the ground overnight during Passover. Some have suggested that the local Jewish leadership was complicit in the 'sale' and demolition of the hospital. Now the leader of the 40-strong community, Abraham Azancot, has confirmed that the Benchimol hospital was demolished without his knowledge and consent.
In a 'phone conversation with 'Louli' reported on the website Darnna on 17 April, Mr Anzacot admitted that he had been in talks over several months with the Wilaya, the local authority. The latter wanted to clear the site in order to give an unobstructed view of the Moulay Hafid palace.
He said the hospital was valued at roughly $2,800,000. He had asked the Wilaya to pay the community this sum or give them a piece of land of equivalent value in exchange. A buyer did come forward.
Mr Azancot claimed that he had never sold it, nor given his consent for the hospital to be knocked down. When it has learned that the hospital had been rased on the first night of Passover, his deputy, Mr Gabay, had alerted Mr Berdugo (the Moroccan Jewish community leader) who was on his way to New York.
" As far as I am concerned to right to property is sacred and inviolable, and written into the Moroccan constitution. Besides, Moroccan law prohibits the authorities from entering private property between 10.30 pm and 6 am, " Mr Azancot said.
The Tangiers Jewish community head will inform His Majesty the King. There had been no official reaction to-date. Mr Azancot was unable to speak to the Wali who was out of town.
"All this is new to me and shocks me deeply, but there are many of us trying to get (the authorities) to shed light on this unacceptable act of aggression and apply sanctions."
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