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      More Than 1,000 Expected at Joseph's Tomb, With or Without IDF

      Organizers of the mass entry to Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem (Nablus) say the worshipers are expected to make the pilgrimage with or without the IDF.
      By Ezra HaLevi
      First Publish: 5/13/2007, 9:18 AM

      Organizers of the mass entry into PA-assigned Shechem (Nablus) to visit Joseph’s Tomb say the worshipers are expected to make the pilgrimage despite IDF security warnings.

      The IDF announced that the entry to Joseph’s Tomb would endanger civilians and interfere with IDF activities in the region.

      “Moshe,” one of those planning on making the journey regardless of IDF warnings, told Army Radio Sunday morning that, “Whereas under former IDF Central Regional Commander Moshe Kaplinsky there were several organized visits to the Tomb, ever since Yair Naveh took the position, there have been almost no organized entries at all.”

      Asked whether he was concerned about endangering his own life and the lives of those entering Shechem due to concrete terror threats reported by the IDF, Moshe said: “We have heard the same story of ‘concrete threats’ by the IDF many times. They know that we know they can handle it, but Central Commander Naveh simply wants to demonstrate his ability to scare us away from Joseph’s Tomb, which we are supposed to be able to pray at even under the Oslo Accords.”

      Organizers cite the IDF's opposition to recent mass returns to Homesh, which, rather than physically opposing, it stood aside and allowed at the last minute.

      Over 1,000 people are expected to attempt to reach the tomb, around which the modern Arab city of Shechem has been built. Sunday night is the 41st day of the 49-day Omer count between Pesach and Shavuot - kabbalisticly most associated with Joseph (yesod she'b'yesod).

      Groups of dozens of Breslov Chassidim have in the past succeeded in circumventing IDF checkpoints and praying at the tomb.

      Organizers have requested that right-wing Knesset Members convince the IDF to allow an organized visit if there truly are security concerns.

      “We are dealing with hundreds of youths, over which there is no control,” Moshe told Arutz-7. “We are dealing with people who are very angry that for two years they have not been allowed to visit Joseph’s Tomb. They want to prove to the army that if it cannot succeed in securing entry to the city of Shechem, then they can get along on their own. Most of them have already done this dozens of times.”

      MK Uri Ariel (National Union-NRP) rejected calls to pressure the IDF, and instead called upon Jews considering entering Shechem “not to endanger themselves.” He also called upon the IDF to begin organizing secured visits as it used to do in the past.

      Illegal Entry Probably Not Necessary, Organizers Say After Meeting

      After meeting with IDF officials, who promised an organized visit would be granted in the very near future, organizers announced that worshipers should refrain from entering Shechem on their own Sunday night, but should gather at nearby Jewish communities such as Itamar and Yitzhar in order to pressure the IDF to commit to providing safe passage in return for calling off the unauthorized pilgrimage.

      "We are awaiting final notice from the IDF on what their response will be," Moshe told Arutz-7 Sunday afternoon.