Elevator and bridge in the Patriarchs Cave
Elevator and bridge in the Patriarchs CaveAmi Gvirtzman, Architects

Further to Defense Minister Naftali Bennett's directive, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) today announced the expropriation order for the Patriarchs Cave accessibility project, which will include constructing an elevator and access path the site.

This is an important humanitarian project that will enable people with disabilities to reach the Cave of the Patriarchs.

The project will include constructing an elevator near the Patriarch's Cave building as well as an access path to allow people with disabilities to ascend from the parking lot to the site plaza.

The accessibility plan was designed by a dedicated professional team, while maintaining a high professional standard of accessibility while taking into account the engineering, religious, and archaeological complexity of the site.

Among alternatives considered, the best program was selected to ensure minimum damage to the topography and its unique characteristics.

Within sixty days of the order publication date, and in absence of legal preclusion, it will be possible to act to realize the appropriation by promoting the required planning procedures.

בנט בהדלקת נר שמיני של חנוכה במערת המכפלהחזקי ברוך

In accordance with political echelon guidance, COGAT notified officials in Hebron and the Palestinian Authority that they intend to initiate a planning process for the Cave of the Patriarchs, including a number of alternatives and outlines that included, among other things, Israeli assistance in making the site accessible, also at the entrance used by Muslims.

Proposals for access by Muslims have been rejected by PA officials due to internal considerations. As far as the PA is concerned, the District Coordinating Office (DCO) will assist the accessibility works also at the entrance used by Muslims arriving to the Cave of the Patriarchs.

Accessing the Cave of the Patriarchs for persons with disabilities will not alter status quo prayer arrangements. The access solution approved on the Israeli side will be in effect during the ten Muslim holidays every year, also to the Muslim population visiting the site.

The B'Tzalmo organization welcomed the publication of the cave renovation order, saying: "The order will expropriate a small area from the Waqf for the benefit of disabled people of all religions and peoples so they can ascend in dignified and accessible form. B'Tzalmo will continue to work for human rights and for access for all."