Some 50 Land of Israel loyalists entered Jericho and, for the first time in a decade placed an Israeli flag at the ancient Shalom Al Yisrael synagogue in the city.
The entry was coordinated between the IDF and the PA police force. Some 20 soldiers, 50 armed PA policemen, and 50 mostly youthful members of the Jericho Group took part in the event.
“We were able to place a flag on the roof,” said one of the organizers, Meir Bertler, “and even to install a mezuzah on the doorpost, without anyone noticing. When the PA forces finally noticed, they just wanted to get us out of there as fast as possible and they barely reacted to the flag.”
“This morning’s activity was another step towards the renewal of Jewish presence,” a group spokesman said. “We will not rest until the Yeshiva that was there up until a decade ago resumes operations.”
The IDF permits organized visits to the site approximately once a month.
The Shalom al Yisrael (Peace on Israel) synagogue is so-named because of the large Hebrew inscription with those words that were found in a floor mosaic there. The synagogue was apparently in use some 1,500 years ago, up until the eighth century. It was revealed in excavations carried out in 1936, and a large floor mosaic with drawings of the Ark of the Covenant, the Menorah, a Shofar, a Lulav and the Hebrew inscription was found and is still intact.
“What’s the next step?” Bertler was asked by Israel National News. He said, “We are planning a large march at the end of the month, all the way from the Kedumim area in the Shomron (Samaria) to Jericho, via the Binyamin area.”
March from Shechem Via the Outposts
He explained that the march will set out from Shvut Ami, a start-up outpost near Kedumim, and would continue on towards Har Brachah and the Joseph Observation Point on Mt. Gerizim adjacent to Shechem (Nablus). The plan is to sleep there for the night, after a large gathering and Land of Israel-affirmation ceremony. The next morning, buses will take the marchers about 10 kilometers southward, to the Eli-Maaleh Levonah junction on the famous Biblical Route 60. After another ceremony at the Shilo Junction, they will pass Ofra and the Givat Assaf turnoff to Beit El, and will spend the night at Ramat Migron. The third day will feature the concluding march to Jericho, via the Rimonim area.
“This will be a protest march from Shechem to Jericho, via the start-up outposts,” Bertler said. “We will call for a national return to all these places, and the removal of the disgrace that Joseph’s Tomb lies abandoned and destroyed. It is a positive sign that the IDF allows us to visit these places every once in a while, but these are our national treasures, and we will continue to apply pressure until we are able to go there and not have to leave.”