A Knesset delegation visited Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem on Wednesday to work out security details for the protection of visitors to the site on the anniversary of the Biblical matriarch's death.
The actual anniversary this year (according to the Hebrew calendar) falls on Shabbat, October 27. But due to the halakhic (Jewish legal) prohibition against traveling on the Sabbath, observances will be held from October 25-28.
Thousands visit Rachel's Tomb each day.
Tens of thousands of visitors visit the tomb on the anniversary. This year at least 120,000 worshipers are expected to show up via public and private transportation to mark the date.
Women, especially, identify with the sorrows of "Mother Rochel" who allowed her older sister to marry the man she loved and who had worked for her for seven long years, did marry him afterwards, but remained barren for a long period and then died giving birth to her second child. She is buried on the way to Efrata, having died during the sojourn back to the Promised Land from her father Laban's home. The midrash says that she was buried on the road for another reason - her children could weep at her tomb on their way to exile in Babylon and she would beg G-d to forgive them. "Rachel weeps for her children for they are gone" says the prophet Jeremiah (Chap. 31).
MKs David Azoulay (Shas), Yulia Shaolov Berkovich (Kadima), Uri Maklev and Yisrael Eichler (UTJ) met with IDF and Border Police officials, as well as representatives from public transportation and emergency medical services.
Shuttles to the Tomb will cost NIS 6.60 and be available from Teddy Stadium near the Malha Mall in Jerusalem. Runs will begin at 4:00 p.m. Thursday, October 25 and will continue until midnight. They will begin again Friday morning at 8:00 a.m. and continue until 2:00 p.m., then start again one hour after the Sabbath on Saturday night and run until midnight, and run on Sunday, October 28 from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
In order to access the Tomb, located in Bethlehem, Jews must now travel down a narrow winding road between high concrete walls which protect worshipers from potential terrorists. The Tomb itself is today protected by an IDF guard tower, and snarls of razor-sharp barbed wire. Bethelehem Arabs attempted to build apartment blocks higher than the protective walls and overlooking the tomb area as soon as the barriers were in place, but the IDF has not allowed the apartments to be occupied.