23 Jews Arrested Trying to Pray at Joseph’s Tomb on Anniversary of Patriarch’s Death

“And Yosef took an oath of Bnei Yisrael, saying: ‘God will surely remember you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.’” Genesis 50:25 (The Israel Bible™)

Twenty-three Jewish men, including some minors, were arrested early Sunday morning by Israeli security forces while attempting to arrive at Joseph’s Tomb near Shechem (Nablus). Four men succeeded in arriving at the site, where they were arrested by Palestinian security forces. The four claimed they were beaten by the Palestinian police.

According to some traditions, Sunday, the first day of the Hebrew month of Tammuz, is the anniversary of Joseph’s death. The Biblical city of Shechem is located in the valley between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim. It is the spot the Nation of Israel stood on when being told of the blessings and curses in store for them. The Talmud (oral law) states it is one of the three places in Israel the non-Jews cannot claim the Jews stole, since the Bible states explicitly that it was purchased.

 And the bones of Yosef, which Bnei Yisrael brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in the parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of money; and they became the inheritance of the children of Yosef. Joshua 24:32

Joseph’s Tomb is in an area that was designated in the 1993 Oslo Accords as Area A and is considered to be under full Palestinian Authority control. Entry into the area is forbidden for Jews without prior authorization with Israeli officials.

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The site has been desecrated and burned by the Palestinians several times. There were reports that they were attempting to build a mosque on the site.

Social media photo showing Joseph’s Tomb on fire, October 15, 2015. (Photo: @sakirkhader/ Twitter)

The Israelis were arrested and taken for questioning on suspicion of violating a legal order, and entering a closed area without a permit while endangering their lives and that of security forces.

“After being questioned, the suspects will be brought to the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court for a hearing,” the IDF said in a statement.

Jewish pilgrims are usually only allowed to visit the holy site once a month under IDF supervision. During these visits, Palestinians routinely throw rocks at the troops, though there have been incidents where shots were fired at the troops.

In 2011, an Israeli man was killed when Palestinian police opened fire on Israeli cars attempting to reach the tomb without prior coordination.

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