Visitors at Neve Samuel site
Visitors at Neve Samuel site Israel news photo: Flash 90

Israel is slowly surrendering de facto the traditional burial site of the prophet Samuel, known as Nebi Samuel, to Arabs, as it once did with the Tomb of Joseph. The holy site is located a short distance to the north of the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramot, near the site of a farm that was torched twice by Arabs in the past four days.

Yisrael Orbach told Israel National News that Arabs set part of his orchard on fire on the Sabbath and tried to burn it down again on Monday. An indication of Israel’s willingness to surrender sovereignty over the site, he said, was reflected in a decision to close the burial site at night because authorities say they cannot insure the public's safety during the evening hours.

A prayer session was held Monday night to protest the decision.

The Palestinian Authority would take control of Nebi Samuel under a previous informal agreement with the former Olmert government, which was rejected by the PA along with the rest of Olmert's far reaching and unauthorized offers. The government tourist information site lists Nebi Samuel along with other holy sites but unlike the others, there is no link for details on travel directions. It is located next to the Givat Ze'ev highway northwest of Jerusalem.

Orbach says the latest attempt to destroy his farm is only one of countless attacks on it and on the traditional burial site, where Jewish holy items have been desecrated in the past, as pictured.  “Since the freeze, the Arabs have staged a kind of Intifada against us,” he said.

He used to herd sheep but was forced to give that up after numerous thefts by Arabs, including those from a nearby village which he reports is filled with members of Hamas. He now grows pomegranate, olive and fig trees, among others, but the Arabs have tried to destroy them, as well.

“Last Shabbat, when we returned home, we smelled smoke and rushed to discover that the lower part of the farm was on fire,” according to Orbach. The blaze destroyed dozens of trees, and the flames reached the edge of a memorial tent he has erected in memory of his daughter, who was killed several years ago by Arab terrorists.

Orbach says the forest that once surrounded the areas has disappeared. “For years, the Arabs cut down and burned the trees. 

They destroyed the trunks by peeling off the bark and then chopping them down, claiming the trees are theirs. Now the forest is gone.”  

He charges the police with not only ignoring the situation but also with hindering volunteers who try to help Orbach. "On Shabbat, a policeman arrived and said to us, 'Make sure there is no commotion here or there will be problems for you.'”

Orbach says he longer goes to the police station to file a complaint because police officers previously have turned the tables and blamed him for incidents.

“Police officers come and laugh at us, and detectives humiliate visitors and then charge us with false accusations,” he added.

Orbach also revealed that the Jewish National Fund’s work force includes several Arabs from the nearby Hamas village who illegally chop down the trees and sell the wood. “The trees from the forest became charcoal for stoves in Hevron,” according to Orbach. “We are giving the Arabs the Neve Samuel site like we gave them Joseph’s Tomb."