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MK Warns IDF Not Ready for Matriarch Rachel's Yahrzeit

MK Eldad says a curfew must be placed on Bethlehem area near Rachel's Tomb on Tuesday.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 11/3/2011, 7:51 PM

Rachel's tomb
Rachel's tomb
Israel radio photo

The Knesset Subcommittee for Judea and Samaria toured Rachel's Tomb  bordering Bethlehem on Thursday, in advance of the yahrzeit memorial of biblical Matriarch Rachel on Cheshvan 11, which begins next Monday evening and ends at sundown on Tuesday. 

MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) said at the end of the tour that he had discovered that the security establishment's plans for the day are not suited at all for protecting the masses of people expected to attend the Tomb Monday night and Tuesday.

"More than 100,000 visitors are expected and the police plans will create queues that will take hours and dangerous traffic jams," he warned. "The only way to make an orderly event possible is to place a curfew, put security forces inside Bethlehem and make it possible for large crowds of people to approach the Tomb on foot."

The subcommittee is part of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.  The visit was initiated by MKs Yisrael Eichler and Uri Makleb (UTJ), who participated alongside Subcommittee Chairman MK Ze'ev Elkin and MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), MK Gideon Ezra (Kadima), and MKs Michael Ben Ari and Eldad (NU).

Rachel's Tomb is on the road between southern Jerusalem and the Gush Etzion city of Efrata. High concrete walls, gates and soldiers protect drivers on the turnoff from the Jerusalem-Gush Etzion-Hevron road that leads right into the tombsite, an enclave controlled by Israel and once set in an open field. Bethlehem, adjacent to the tomb, is in PA hands.

The site is visited especially by women, who identify with Rachel's difficult life -  her sister's marriage to her beloved Jacob, her subsequent infertility when they do marry, and her death in childbirth - and feel that she listens to their prayers and understands their troubles.

For the history of Rachel's tomb, click here.