Some 1,200 Jews visited Kever Yosef (the Tomb of Joseph) on Monday night, with IDF troops accompanying worshippers who arrived for what has become a regular monthly event at the site. Monday night marked not only the seventh night of Hanukkah, but also Rosh Chodesh – the new Jewish month of Tevet. Many of those attending were Breslov Hassidim, but there were also attendees from other Hassidic groups, along with many residents of towns in Judea and Samaria.
The late-night visit, in which worshippers came to read Tehillim (psalms) and say penitential prayers was marred when an Arab thug from the area threw stones at the worshippers. IDF troops arrested the Arab. Kever Yosef is located inside the PA-controlled city of Shechem. Although nominally – and according to the Oslo Accords officially – under Israeli control, the site and its surroundings is for all practical purposes controlled by the PA.
Currently, Jews are allowed to visit the Tomb only by special permit of the IDF. Groups that attempt to pray there without such permits are often arrested by the army. According to the Oslo Accords, Israelis are supposed to have free access to the site, but Arab rioters have several times destroyed the Tomb, and the IDF has barred Jews from going there because of fear of Arab violence.
Several weeks ago, PA police opened fire at a group of Breslov Hassidim as they were trying to enter the site. According to a report, a PA police officer chased a group of Breslov Hassidim and then opened fire at them, hitting one and wounding him lightly. He was able to escape, along with the others.
Last April, Palestinian Authority soldiers killed yeshiva student Ben Yosef Livnat as he was returning from prayers at Joseph’s Tomb.
One Israeli who refused to leave the site Monday night, after IDF soldiers declared the event ove, was arrested as well. He was questioned and released.