The tomb of Joseph (Kever Yosef) in Shechem got a new roof this week. The repairs were completed ten years after the site was overrun and vandalized by a Palestinian Authority Arab mob.
Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika petitioned the government for years to allow repairs at the site. Last month, as the Chief Rabbis of Israel visited the tomb, the IDF Civil Administration announced that repairs would commence.
The government rejected Mesika's other request: that Jews be allowed free access to the holy site, as they were allowed prior to the year 2000. Jewish access to the tomb remains limited. On Thursday, a rally and concert will be held on Mount Gerizim, overlooking the tomb. Those present will demand that the holy site, at which the Biblical patriarch Joseph is buried, be open to Jews on a daily basis.
Organizers say Thursday's event will be the first step in a campaign for Jewish rights in Samaria.
David Haivri, Director of the Shomron (Samaria) Liaison Office, said, “Although I am sad that our residents were not permitted to take part in the honor of actually repairing the site, I am glad to see fruit of our efforts to renovate the holy site. We will continue to push forward the agenda of open and free access to Jewish people.”
“Silence on behalf on the international community and human rights activist on issue exposes their hypocrisy, religious rights of other people are not ignored in such a way," he added.
The repair work was done by PA Arabs hired by Israel. Jewish residents of Samaria expressed concern over the arrangement, saying that paying PA Arabs to repair damage caused by PA Arabs could be seen by the vandals as a reward.
In September 2000, an Arab mob took over the tomb and burned down the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva that had stood there for 25 years. The mob smashed the roof of the holy site. Rabbi Hillel Lieberman and Israeli soldier Medhat Yusef were killed while attempting to stop the destruction.
Since then, Jewish worshipers have been allowed only sporadic access to the site, to which they were supposed to be granted open access under the Oslo Accords.