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      Tensions High as IDF Limits Entry into Joseph's Tomb

      Minister Yishai and local leader Mesika cancel participation at Tomb event after IDF limits the number of participants. Police fan out.
      By Gil Ronen
      First Publish: 7/3/2011, 7:09 PM / Last Update: 7/3/2011, 7:16 PM

      Flash 90

      Tension is high in northern Samaria Sunday after security forces limited the number of Jews whom they will allow to take part in the yarzeit of Joseph the Patriarch at Joseph’s Tomb tonight.

      The anniversary of Joseph’s death is marked Sunday evening – Rosh Hodesh Tamuz – and the Samaria local authority had made plans for a large scale event with the participation of Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas). However, Yishai decided to bow out of the event Sunday, as did Gershon Mesika, who chairs the Samaria authority.

      The two decided not to participate in protest of the IDF’s refusal to allow more than 12 busloads of participants into the Tomb. 
       
      A grassroots activist posting on Rotter.net said that there is a large scale police presence in the area of Tapuach Junction, as police including special Yasam units fan out to prevent Jews from reaching the Tomb illicitly. 
       
      David Ha’ivri of the Samaria Liaison Office explained that “as much as the Shomron local government under Gershon Mesika tries to provide organized visits to Joseph's Tomb with full permission and coordination with the IDF command, seven to 12 buses once a month just aren't enough to satisfy the needs of the Jewish community.”
       
      “It is important to point out to the readers that each visit to Kever Yosef [Joseph's Tomb] is a very complicated operation,” Ha’ivri explained. “The IDF brings in a very big force and actually ‘captures’ Shechem from the PLO and provides security and escorts throughout the night for the approved buses.” 
       
      “Each time hundreds of people are able to visit but on the other hand many hundreds do not get in. All of these visits are in the middle of the night, so the soldiers and all of the guests all lose a night's sleep the make this happen. On our last visit there thousands of people came to the entrance of Shechem and couldn't get in.”
       
      The Tomb of Joseph is under Israeli control according to the written agreements between Israel and the PA. However, Muslim violence and barbarity at the site successfully wrested it from the hands of the IDF and Jews can only visit the Tomb at night, once a month, under heavy IDF guard.