There was trouble at Joseph’s Tomb in the Palestinian Arab city of Nablus (biblical Shechem) this week when a group of Jewish visitors were attacked by terrorists. There have been multiple recent attacks by the Arabs on Jewish visitors, and visiting the heritage site has become more and more difficult.
Under the 1993 Oslo Accords agreement, Joseph’s Tomb, a highly-respected biblical heritage site for the Jewish people, was to remain open to tourists and visitors. Shortly after the agreement was signed however, the Israeli military decided to close the site due to security concerns. In fact, they closed the section of Highway 60 that leads through Nablus to non-Israeli citizens completely.
Today, in a best case scenario, visits are allowed to the site of Joseph’s Tomb once or twice per month. They are always scheduled for the middle of the night, and always take place under a heavy Israeli military escort.
This week, a group of Jewish visitors were on their way to Joseph’s Tomb, including Member of Knesset Ofir Sofer from the Religious Zionism Party, head of the Samaria Regional Council Yossi Dagan, and several other candidates for the Knesset in the upcoming November elections.
While entering Nablus to visit the site, the group came under fire from Arab terrorists. The IDF responded, and multiple people were injured, and there are reports of one death.
After visiting the site, MK Sofer said:
“Following the recent shooting incidents, I arrived tonight, together with hundreds of worshipers, with a clear statement that Joseph’s Tomb is ours forever and terrorism will not deter us. Those who don’t want us here, don’t want us in the Galilee, the Negev and the center either. Only a persistent fight and belief in our right to our land will lead to a situation where Jews will be able to pray safely and in daylight at Joseph’s Tomb.”
Head of the Samaria Regional Council Yossi Dagan said:
“The people of Israel are strong and will defeat the barbarians, we will never bow our heads, we will come to Joseph’s Tomb again and again and again and the flag of Israel will return to fly over this holy place. The people of Israel will win.”
A candidate for the Knesset who was also visiting, Tzvi Succot said:
“The IDF did well to continue allowing worshipers even in the face of the shooting threats of the terrorist organizations. At the same time, we are tired of entering like thieves in the night, the permanent Jewish presence at Joseph’s Tomb must be renewed as stipulated even in the Oslo Accords. 22 years too long have passed since the Tomb was abandoned – it’s time to return.”
Even if Israel does choose to abide by the official agreements that were made between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs under the Oslo Accords (which the PA has continually violated), the site of Joseph’s Tomb should be protected and open to anyone who wishes to visit, anytime they want. The words of MK Sofer are very true – the same people who don’t want Jews in Shechem (Nablus) also don’t want Jews in the Galilee, the Negev, or anywhere in Israel. They won’t be satisfied until every Jew has been pushed into the Mediterranean Sea.