Joseph's Tomb Visit: Video, Pics

Hundreds of Jews visited the generally-closed holy site of Joseph’s Tomb, accompanied by protective and organizational IDF forces.

Hillel Fendel, | updated: 12:13

Joseph's Tomb
Joseph's Tomb
Israel news photo: Yonathan Gormezano

Hundreds of people visited the holy site of Joseph’s Tomb last week, accompanied by protective and organizational IDF forces. The site was the site of a bustling yeshiva for over 20 years until it was conquered by Palestinian Authority forces during the Oslo War of 2000.  It was largely destroyed and has been closed to free Jewish entrance since that time.

Of late, however, midnight visits are enabled, organized by the army every several weeks (in addition to more frequent, unofficial visits by adventurous youths). One participant in last week’s visit said he counted seven buses and many cars, for a total of at least 400 people.

Photos and video courtesy of Yonatan Gormezano


“People came from all over the country,” said Yonatan Gormezano, of Petach Tikvah. “I had signed up well before, and then I received a call informing me that a bus was leaving from Ariel at 11 PM that night… The prayers there were very impressive and very enthusiastic. The gravesite itself looks as if it was recently painted over; the last time I was there, about a year ago, it was all burnt… The famous dome on top is shattered; about a third of it is simply not there, and one can see the sky … No windows or doors remain…”

Joseph’s Tomb is now located within a densely-populated Arab neighborhood in the city of Shechem (Nablus); just 35 years ago, it stood alone in a field outside the populated parts of the city.

On Thursday, a day after the organized group entry to Joseph’s Tomb, dozens of activists in the Shechem settlement core group arrived at a checkpoint outside the eastern entrance of the city. They said they wished to refurbish Joseph’s Tomb. “Our activities will continue until the shameful barring of Jews from the city and the holy site ends,” they said. Six of them were arrested.

Six weeks ago, 1,000 people gathered at the same place to declare their desire and intention to build a Jewish presence in the ancient city. The Torah records the purchase by the Patriarch Jacob of the area for “100 kesitahs.”

“We do not suffice with the communities around Shechem,” they said. “We call for a Jewish presence inside the city, and we will be proactive to this end, even without government permission.”

Popular singer Ariel Zilber, who performed there, said, “Joseph’s Tomb has stood forlorn without Jews for nine years. Our brother Joseph has been abandoned, and the holy site stands disgraced. It’s time to return to Shechem and renew the Jewish presence there.”