Some 1,400 people came to daven at Kever Yosef in Shechem Monday night, prior to next week’s tzom of 17 Tammuz, accompanied by security forces who fended off numerous Arab rioters who attempted to reach mispallelim. Soldiers standing guard as mispallelim proceeded to the kever noticed an Arab vehicle that was driving at them at high speed, leading them to suspect that the Arab was attempting a car-ramming terror attack. Soldiers managed to halt the vehicle and arrested the driver.
Arabs have vandalized and set fire to Kever Yosef numerous times since the signing of the Oslo Accords, most notably in 2000, 2003, 2008 and 2014. Between 2003 and 2009, the site remained desolate, until Israel and the PA reached an accord on refurbishing the site in 2010. Currently, Jews are allowed to visit Kever Yosef a total of 15 times a year – usually on Erev Rosh Chodesh or during chagim – to daven.
The security arrangements for the visit were made by the Shomron Regional Council. Council head Yossi Dagan said that “once again we have the zechus to enter Kever Yosef. On the one hand we are happy that so many people from so many backgrounds, including from abroad, join us on these visits. On the other had, we are sad that we have to make these visits in the dark of night, and that the yeshivah that had been here is no longer here permanently. We urge the government of Israel to return the full-time presence of Jews to Kever Yosef. As residents of Shomron we are obligated to remain here and build, but the responsibility for the security of the holy places, and especially Kever Yosef, is the government’s. We will not rest until the Israeli flag is flying here.”