Some 2,800 people visited Kever Yosef Tuesday night in honor of Purim Katan. They were accompanied by security forces who fended off numerous Arab rioters who attempted to reach mispallelim. Soldiers used anti-riot measures to hold back the mob. Arab sources claimed that one rioter was injured.
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 agreement on refurbishing the site in 2010. Currently, Jews are allowed to visit Kever Yosef once a month – usually on Erev Rosh Chodesh – to daven.
Shomron Council head Yossi Dagan said that “we were very happy to be able to visit Kever Yosef on this occasion, but like Purim Katan, where our celebration is limited because we have yet to get to the ‘main event,’ Purim, we are also anxious for our ‘main event,’ which will be free access to this site for Jews any time of day or night, as well as all the sites that are holy to the Jewish people. We hope the government will help that day arrive, and then our happiness will be complete.”
Overnight Tuesday, security officials said they arrested 17 wanted security suspects in other areas in Yehudah and Shomron. The suspects were wanted for participating in rioting and throwing stones and firebombs that endangered Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers. Several of the suspects were also charged with belonging to Hamas. All were being questioned on their activities by security forces.