David Azoulai in Hevron
David Azoulai in HevronMin of Religious Affairs

After a series of Arab provocations and ongoing terror attacks, the government seems set to fully embrace and further defend the Machpelah Cave, traditionally considered the burial site of the Fathers of the Jewish people, and long a flashpoint for Arab violence against Jews. On a visit to the site Sunday, Religious Affairs Minister David Azoulai (Shas) promised to increase the budgets for the Cave itself, as well as for the Jewish community of Hevron.

The Machpelah Cave is an inseparable part of Jewish tradition and one of the most important sites in Judaism,” said Azoulai. “I will G-d willing act to increase the budget of the site, to provide more and better services and to improve the infrastructure,” he added.

While in Hevron, Azoulai visited the Beit Hadassah center, and the Kiryat Arba local council, which is responsible for the Jewish community of Hevron. Azoulai saw a film recounting the Jewish community's experience in the city – including the events surrounding the 1929 pogrom against the hundreds-of-years old Jewish community by local Arabs.

I was very happy to come to this place during this most auspicious time of year, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur,” said Azoulai. “I call on all Jews to come and pray at this holy place, and connect themselves to our faith and our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who are buried here. When I took the position of Religious Affairs Minister I set as one of my goals strengthening our connection to holy places like this, and I intend to fulfill my goals.”

Earlier in September, five American students were nearly lynched by an Arab mob near the Cave. The youths were rescued after an Arab resident took them into his house and kept them hidden there until security forces arrived. Just a week before that, an Arab driver tried to run over a group of soldiers who were standing at a junction right outside Hevron. One of the soldiers was lightly injured in his foot. The soldiers fired back at the vehicle and hit one of its back lights. The driver continued driving towards Hevron.