Yesterday, violent Jihadist terrorists opened fire at Jewish worshippers who were visiting the Tomb of Joseph in biblical Shechem (modern-day Nablus). Even though the Oslo Accords stipulated that the heritage site should remain open and accessible to Israelis, the current situation only allows Jews to visit the site on certain dates, only in the middle of the night, and only under IDF escort. During the heavy gunfire that erupted early Thursday morning, three people were injured including a senior IDF officer.
Yossi Dagan, head of the Shomron Regional Council, said in response to the attack: “We won’t relinquish our grip on Joseph’s Tomb.” Dagan also blamed the current government, saying that these attacks would not happen if the site were kept open all of the time and the IDF maintained a regular presence at the tomb.
“The lack of an IDF presence in this holy place is the reason why the murderous ‘Palestinian Authority’ raises its head and allows itself to shoot Jews during their prayers,” Yossi Dagan said.
This idea of strength versus weakness is something that our western culture finds difficult to grasp. In a middle eastern culture however, enemies highly respect a show of strength, but are emboldened by acts of compromise or weakness. After the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993, under which Joseph’s Tomb was to remain open to Jewish worshippers all of the time, Israel decided to close the site due to security concerns. This eventually morphed into a situation where worshippers are only allowed to visit once or twice per month, and always during the middle of the night. Even though they are transported by armored buses and escorted by a heavy military presence, rock throwings, molotov cocktails, tire burnings, and even shootings are not uncommon during visits to Joseph’s Tomb. Already this year, the site of the tomb itself was vandalized twice.
Given the fact that severely limiting visits to this Jewish heritage site has resulted in even more attacks by radical militants, one could surmise that these terrorists have been emboldened by an apparent show of weakness on Israel’s part.
The site of Joseph’s Tomb, and so many other Jewish heritage sites that lay captive within Palestinian Arab towns and villages, should be free for all Jewish worshippers to visit whenever they wish. Strength, not weakness should be shown. Giving in to radical Islamic terrorism is never the answer.