12 Years after the Murder - Jewish Hikers Return to Mount Eval

For the first time in more than 11 years, hikers returned to Mount Eval for an historic walking tour of the area.

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Elad Benari & Yoni Kempinski,

Hikers on Mount Eval
Hikers on Mount Eval
Israel news photo: Yoni Kempinski

An historic walking tour of the ridge of Mount Eval, one of the two mountains mentioned in the Torah that rise above the city of Shechem, was held on Monday.

About one hundred people participated in the tour, which took place for the first time since 2000, when the revered Rabbi Binyamin Herling was killed when terrorists opened sudden fire on a group of hikers as they stood on the side of the mountain. The hikers had IDF permission for the tour and were ambushed.

The renewed tour was initiated and guided by Yair Elmakias of Midreshet Shomron and included observations of places such as the Tomb of Joseph at Shechem and the site identified by Professor Adam Zertal as the altar built by Joshua at Mount Eval, as G-d had commanded the people of Israel to do (Deut. 27, 4-8), once they cross the Jordan River. 

Zeital's excavations unearthed the bones of kosher animals only around the altar's site, one of the proofs that he had found the actual altar described in the book of Joshua, when six tribes were commanded to ascend Mount Grizim and six were commanded to ascend Mount Eval to answer "amen" to the blessings for obeying and the punishments for transgressing the Torah's commandments, read out by the kohanim [priests] as the Jewish people left the desert to enter the Promised Land. The site thus has great historic significance.

“Mount Eval is not just a site discovered by Adam Zertal,” Elmakias told Arutz Sheva. “We walk here on foot, with the IDF’s approval, with minimal security, with no connection to the city of Shechem. We tour the place, we are in touch with the Nature and Parks Authority to mark this area. It almost happened today. We hope that it will happen within the next few months and this site will even be approved for school trips.”

Elmakias said that ever since the terror attack on Rabbi Herling and his group in 2000, the area of Mount Eval has been considered tense. Recently, however, the IDF began to allow trips to the area.

“The military has approved trips once a month on armored buses over the past six months, only to the area of Joshua’s altar,” he said. “The last two times we’ve had large tours around Mount Eval. One of the most beautiful observation points in Israel is right behind me, the valleys of northern Samaria [on a clear day one can see Israel from the Mediterranean coast to the Jordan River, ed.]. We hope that the area will be opened to the public.”