Some 1,400 people visited the Tomb of Joseph (Kever Yosef) on Wednesday night. The visit was part of a regular cycle of visits that take place at the beginning of the Jewish month and on numerous holidays.
This visit took place on the eve of the beginning of the new Hebrew month of Tammuz. It was one of the largest visits by Jews to the site over the past decade. Prayers are conducted, with worshippers making special requests on behalf of family and the Jewish people.
Wednesday night's visit to Joseph's Tomb raised the ire of local Arabs, who threw rocks at worshippers and IDF soldiers. Soldiers used anti-riot techniques to break up the disturbances. One soldier was lightly wounded in the rioting. He was taken to Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikvah for treatment.
During the event, several Jews also attempted to enter the city of Shechem, which is adjacent to the Tomb. Police arrested four people. Under Israeli law it is forbidden for Israelis to enter Shechem, which is controlled by the Palestinian Authority.
Under the Oslo Accords, the Tomb is supposed to be open to Israelis for prayer at any time. In practice, all visits to the site must be coordinated with the Israeli Defense Forces, which must send in a large contingent to protect visitors. Arabs have several times defaced and vandalized the site, and several Jews have been killed in the area of the Tomb. As a result, the IDF has banned visits to the site, unless coordinated with the army.
IDF forces operating in Judea and Samaria arrested 10 wanted Arab security suspects overnight Wednesday, as well. The suspects are being questioned by security personnel.