Three days after Arab rioters burned Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem (Nablus), the Samaria Regional Council sent an official delegation on Sunday night to inspect the damage at the holy site.
The delegation was led by Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, Samaria Regional Council Head Yossi Dagan, Samaria Chief Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, and Dagan’s deputy Davidi Ben-Tzion. IDF commanders tasked with the region were also present, as were arson damage inspectors.
Rabbi Yosef expressed deep shock upon seeing the damage, which was caused by over 150 Arab rioters who the Palestinian Authority (PA) let burn the holy site before eventually stopping them. Video of the visit, in Hebrew, can be viewed below.
Upon entering the Tomb, Rabbi Yosef kissed the grave marker and then quoted a passage describing the destruction of the Holy Temple: “the nations have entered Your inheritance; they have defiled Your Holy Temple” (Psalms 79:1).
“What was done here is simply the actions of ISIS (Islamic State),” said the rabbi, noting on the destruction of ancient heritage sites by the Islamic terror group in Iraq and Syria that has sparked global outrage.
“The heart simply can’t comprehend this evil. What kind of people destroy a holy site like this? Israel protects their holy sites, the mosques, Al-Aqsa Mosque, and they unashamedly treat a holy site like Joseph’s Tomb in this way,” said the astonished Rabbi Yosef.
Rabbi Levanon expressed his shock as well and read a passage from Psalms at the site, and likewise made a call to return the site to Israeli control – as was stipulated by the 1994 Oslo Accords.
“The PA was involved”
The Samaria Regional Council is currently checking how it can work to restore the site, Dagan announced, commenting on the burned out chambers: “these are horrific and difficult sights.”
“It makes no sense to come to the center of the land of Israel to one of the holiest sites to the Jewish nation, an international heritage site, and it’s completely desecrated and broken,” said Dagan.
“These are horrific sights that prove with a certainty that the Palestinian Authority was involved. A rabble couldn’t cause such damage over such time without the (Palestinian) Authority catching wind of it.”
Enumerating the damage inflicted, he added, “the marble on the grave marker is completely broken. The floors are broken. The ceiling is broken. Everything is burned. We need to think about how to restore the site, to clean and prepare it to take in thousands of worshipers again.”
“And beyond the physical repair, we need to do some soul searching as to how it happened that in the center of the state, a place that is so holy is desecrated, and the world is nearly completely silent.”
In protest of the arson, five Jews visited the Tomb on Saturday night where they were savagely beaten by PA security officers before being arrested by the IDF and placed under house arrest.
According to the 1994 Oslo Accords, Joseph’s Tomb was to be under full Israeli control – until Arab rioters occupied, desecrated and burned down the site in 2000 amid the Second Intifada terror war. Since then it has been left under PA control with the IDF only allowing Jews to visit once a month on Rosh Chodesh.
While the PA promised in agreements with Israel that it would protect Jewish sites under its de facto control and allow free access to Jews, in 2011 Yosef Livnat was murdered at Joseph’s Tomb by none other than PA policemen as he visited the holy site with fellow yeshiva students. Livnat was the nephew of former Minister Limor Livnat (Likud).