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Hevron: Muslim Worshippers Desecrate Jewish Holy Site

Tomb of the Patriarchs is Judaism's second holiest site.
By Ari Soffer
First Publish: 7/13/2013, 10:56 PM

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מנהלת מערת המכפלה

Jewish worshippers who arrived at the Cave of Patriarchs in Hevron after Muslim prayers on Friday were horrified to find that the site had been vandalised.

The Cave (known as Me'arat Hamakhpela in Hebrew) is usually split between Jewish and Muslim worshippers, but this past Friday it was open exclusively to Muslim worshippers in honour of Ramadan.

But when the Jewish section of the site was reopened, worshippers were horrified to find widespread desecration. Two mezuzot - cases containing Jewish holy scriptures affixed to the doorpost - had been torn off and stolen, and a third was damaged. Muslim worshippers had also thrown mud and garbage around the site, and uprooted parts of the garden outside.

Noam Arnon, a spokesperson for Hevron's Jewish community, called upon the government to take such acts of desecration "at least as seriously as the burning of carpets in a mosque" - a reference to the string of condemnations and promises of a crackdown by authorities against acts of vandalism on mosques by suspected Jewish extremists.

"After a 'Price Tag' attack everyone rushes to condemn - the government, Members of Knesset, even the Chief Rabbis - and the police promise to do 'everything in their power' to catch those responsible. The people of Hevron are waiting to see if they will react in the same way to this act of desecration."

Arnon added that such acts were commonplace, particularly during Muslim holidays.

"I can't say that we're surprised, because this kind of thing happens after every Muslim festival. But we are still hoping that justice will be done."

The Cave of the Patriarchs is considered Judaism's second holiest site, after the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. It is the burial place of the Jewish patriarchs - Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - as well as three of the four matriarchs - Sarah, Rebekah and Leah (the fourth, Rachel, is buried in Bethlehem).