Hundreds of worshippers visited the Samarian town of Awarta on Saturday night in order to pray at the graves believed to be those of Elazar and Itamar, the sons of Aaaron, the first High Priest of Israel. The “70 elders” mentioned in the Torah as leaders of the Jewish people are believed to be buried in a cave nearby
The visit was secured by a regiment comprised of IDF forces, the Border Police and the Israel Police. The IDF reported that "during the course of the entry, a number of Israelis were reported to have been throwing stones at houses and vehicles in the village. Damage was caused to a number of vehicles and a building. The security forces immediately prevented the stone-throwing from continuing and the matter was transferred to the Israel Police."
In 1235, Rabbi Yaakov Hashaliach described in the book describing his visit to Israel: “And the village of Awarta to the left ascending to Jerusalem - there is the gravesite of the priest Itamar in it, and it is a very pleasant place.” The biblical passage in the book of Joshua (24:33) relating, “And Elazar the son of Aharon died, and they buried him on the hill of Pinchas his son that was given to him on Har Ephraim,” is believed to be referring to the location of Awarta.
The IDF reported that its forces confiscated an assortment of weapons in the Arab village of Yatta, near Hevron. In total, security forces arrested 16 wanted terrorists overnight for suspicions of involvement in terrorism and rock throwing at Jewish motorists.