Hevron’s Jewish community awoke Wednesday morning to discover that two caravan trailer homes had been placed on an ancient Jewish Ashkenazi cemetery frequented by the Chabad-Lubavitch movement due to the fact that Menucha Rochel, the grand daughter of the first Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, is buried there.
The cemetery had been destroyed during the years following the violent riots in 1929 during which Jews were thrown out of the city. It is now an empty area where Arab residents frequently throw garbage and refuse, with the grave of Menucha Rochel refurbished and cared for by a Chabad kollel [full-time Torah study group] that studies at the site daily.
The Jewish community re-purchased the entire area of the cemetery years ago, but has not built anything on the site, which is now the border between the city’s H1 area, controlled by the Palestinian Authority - and the H2 area, under IDF control.
The caravans placed on the cemetery are on the PA-controlled H1 side, however, and the Civil Administration, which usually acts to prevent unauthorized Jewish building, refuses to do anything to remove the structures.
A view of the illegal caravans - one behind the other (Photo: Hevron Spokesman)
Hevron’s Jewish community is outraged at the development. “Number one, it is 100 percent Jewish-owned land,” said Hevron spokesman David Wilder. “Number two, we have been told the Arabs intend to build a school at the site, which is a very serious security problem. There is a Chabad kollel there every afternoon and to have something so close is a mortal threat.”
Asked whether recent visits by left-wing MKs and declarations by left-wing radical groups that they would establish a headquarters to “defend” the Arabs of the Tel Romeida neighborhood in Hevron from Jews and the IDF may have played a role in the development, Wilder was not certain.
“I don’t know either way,” said Wilder, “but whenever the leftists come here in a provocative manner, it has always opened the door for things such as terror attacks to happen, because the terrorists see that they have support from these people for their goals and it whets their appetite.”
The Jews of Hevron say they will not allow the desecration of the cemetery to stand. “As the government uproots Jews and abandons holy sites, threatening expel Jews even from their inheritance in Hevron, the Arabs continue their stealing of land and desecration of Hevron’s ancient cemetery," said Hevron mayor Noam Arnon. "Until now, the area was guarded, but today it was suddenly abandoned. We demand the removal of the trespassers immediately.”