Prayer at Kever Yosef
Prayer at Kever YosefShomron Council

An unprecedented number of more than 1,500 Jews – secular and religious – were escorted to Joseph’s Tomb (Kever Yosef) in Nablus (Shechem) Sunday night. Fifty tried to remain against IDF orders.

The IDF approved the pilgrimage in honor of the special "Yesod she'byesod" day of the Omer counting, which is considered to be a special "Joseph" day.  It was held five weeks after Palestinian Authority soldiers intentionally shot at Jewish worshipers at the holy site, killing Ben Yosef Livnat.

Video courtesy of Tzvi Sand.

Several buses, under the protective eyes and guns of the army, travelled back and forth to the Biblical city, which is recorded in the Bible as having been purchased by the Patriarch Yaakov (Jacob).

Approximately 200 worshippers entered without IDF permission, raising complaints from the IDF that they endangered their own lives and those of soldiers. Fifty of them refused to leave and tried to remain at the Tomb until the army was forced to evacuate them in daylight, after dawn Monday.

Overshadowing the incident were the huge numbers of Jews who prayed with IDF escort. They included worshipers from all streams of Israeli society – religious, secular, hareidi religious, rabbis, soldiers and followers of Kabbalah.

Palestinian Authority terrorists and vandals have desecrated the holy site several times, and 10 years ago took control following a terrorist attack. The government, IDF, the Shomron (Samaria) Regional Council and the One Shechem organization have helped repair the site.

Several Knesset Members and the Chief Rabbi of France have visited the site during the past two years as part of a movement to return Kever Yosef to Israeli sovereignty, as stipulated in the Oslo Accords.

"I hope that the heartwarming entry of thousands of people to Kever Yosef will be another step to restoring its full sovereignty to Israel," said Shomron Regional Council chairman Gershn Mesika. "I call on all Cabinet ministers to join us here at the Tomb of Joseph in Shechem to complete the restoration of the holy site, one of three places that other nations cannot say were stolen.”

The Bible records the purchases of Hevron, by Avraham, and Jerusalem, by King David as well as the purchase of Joseph's Tomb. The Talmud, presciently, states that no matter how many accusations are hurled against the Jews for "usurping" or "conquering" their G-d-given land, these three purchases are recorded in the Bible and cannot be questioned by the nations.  Ironically, they have turned out to be the most contested areas of all.

Photos: Shomron Regional Council