The IDF barred Knesset Members and rabbis of yeshivas from entering Kever Yosef (Joseph’s Tomb) in Shechem Sunday evening, on the anniversary of the death of the Biblical Yosef. Police arrested more than 40 people who tried to enter without permits.
The military and police allowed only 12 buses to enter the holy site after having originally allowed 20 busloads to enter. The last-minute restrictions on the number of participants, and the ban on public figures, caused Samaria (Shomron) Regional Council Chairman Gershon Mesika and leading ZIonist rabbi Rav Elyakim Levanon to boycott the event.
Kever Yosef has been the focal point of tension for more than a decade. The Oslo Accords, signed by the Palestinian Authority, guaranteed the right of Jews to pray at the site, but Israel surrendered its sovereignty at Kever Yosef following the deadly terrorist attack by Palestinian Authority terrorists in 2000.
Dozens of attempts by national religious figures to pray at Kever Yosef eventually resulted in IDF escorts for prayers there, but dozens of people have tried to challenge the need for special permission to pray
Last April, Palestinian Authority soldiers killed yeshiva student Ben Yosef Livnat as he was returning from prayers at Kever Yosef.
Sunday’s evening’s massive prayer was virtually ignored by Israel’s mainstream media.