The IDF and Border Police have deployed extra units in the city of Hevron, in Judea, to secure this weekend’s ‘Hevron Shabbat’, as tens of thousands of Israelis head to the biblical city for what has become a popular annual pilgrimage.
Every year, thousands of Jews gather in Hevron and the adjoining town of Kiryat Arba for the ‘Hevron Shabbat’, held on the Sabbath corresponding with the ‘Chayei Sarah’ Torah portion from the Book of Genesis.
Spanning Genesis 23:1 to 25:18, the Chayei Sarah portion details Abraham’s purchase of a burial place in the city of Hevron for his wife, Sarah.
Since the Cave of Machpelah, better known today as the Tomb of the Patriarchs, is mentioned in the portion, in recent years, the Sabbath during which Chayei Sarah is read in synagogues has become a popular pilgrimage to Hevron and Kiryat Arba.
Last year, more than 40,000 Jews stayed in Hevron for Shabbat Hevron, and similar numbers are expected to visit this weekend.
The entire Tomb of the Patriarchs complex will be open to Jewish visitors during Shabbat Hevron. For most of the year, most of the complex is reserved for Muslim prayer services, with Jewish access limited to a single hall.
Hundreds of Border Police officers and IDF soldiers will be deployed to Hevron over the weekend, securing the Jewish neighborhoods in Hevron as well as tours planned in the city.