Israel’s Absurd Relinquishing Of Sovereignty Over Joseph’s Tomb

UPDATE 7 pm Friday: Hamas Palestinian terrorists opened fire at an IDF force along the Border fence an hour and a half ago–and the IDF is responding with artillery fire.


Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones with you from here.”  Exodus 13:19

The bones of Joseph, which the Children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, were buried in Shechem in a parcel of land Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor, father of Shechem, for a hundred pieces of silver.  Joshua 24:32

The earliest photograph of Joseph's Tomb (1865)--before it was restored.

One of the most revered figures in Jewish history, Joseph is widely remembered for having the gift of prophecy, being given a multi-colored coat by his father, incurring the wrath of his jealous brothers who threw him into their father’s well, being taken out and sold to traders who took him to Egypt, languishing in prison until using his prophecies to win the favor of the Pharoah who made him a vizier, and eventually reuniting and reconciling with his family.

Joseph's Tomb after restoration. This picture was taken in 1894.

Today, some 3500 years later, Joseph’s Tomb can still be found in Samaria at the site of biblical Shechem (the Arabs call this area on the outskirts of the modern city of Shechem (Nablus) Tel Balata.  Specifically, it is at the head of a valley that separates Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal, 325 yards northwest of Jacob’s Well.  According to tradition, the current Tomb site was chosen by the Samaritans of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Whether the Tomb (rebuilt in 1868)  is actually built on the location of the biblical burial site is not known.

Joseph’s Tomb has long been a place of religious conflict dating all the way back to Samaritans fighting with Christians during the early Byzantine period (around 350-400 CE).  In 1967, when Israel captured Judea and Samaria, Jewish access to the Tomb was restored.  After the signing of the infamous Oslo Accords in the mid-1990s, jurisdiction of the Shechem/Nablus area was turned over to the Palestinians; however, Israel retained sovereignty over Joseph’s Tomb.

On October 7, 2000–a few weeks after the beginning of the second intifada–in a move that can only be described as humiliatingly bizarre, then Prime Minister Ehud Barak (who else?) decided to evacuate all Israeli soldiers and turn the Tomb over to the PLO.

Within hours, the Tomb was ransacked and burned by Palestinian rioters, and Rabbi Hillel Lieberman, who had often led prayers at the tomb, was shot to death by Palestinian terrorists.

The ransacking and burning of Joseph's Tomb by Palestinians--under the "watchful eye" of the so-called PLO "police." Thank you Ehud Barak.

In 2002, following Israel’s Operation Defensive Shield, IDF troops retook the area around the Tomb–and when they withdrew some time later, Israel reached another absurd agreement with the PLO whereby Jewish worshipers can now only visit the tomb, once a month, at midnight.  Every visit has to be coordinated with the IDF and the PLO so that adequate security can be provided.

A new covering on the tomb of Joseph--placed there by Jewish worshipers in 2010 on one of their midnight visits.

Security from whom? From Palestinian terrorists, like the the PLO police themselves. One year ago, on April 24, 2011, the Palestinian police opened fire on three cars of Jewish worshipers–murdering  25 year old Ben-Joseph Livnat. No “policeman” was ever charged in this wanton killing.

A picture taken at 1:15 am at the entrance to the Tomb. Note the armed IDF soldiers amongst the crowd of worshipers. Photo courtesy of Jason Koutsoukis.

All of which brings us to last night when 1500 Jews were worshiping at the Tomb. Despite the presence of the IDF and 10 PLO “policemen” personnel, Arab terrorists assaulted both the IDF security detail and the worshipers with rocks and Molotov cocktails–as the PLO police did nothing. 

It is high time for the Israeli government to reverse Ehud Barak’s absurd decision and reassert its legal sovereignty over Joseph’s Tomb. Of course this will never happen as long as Ehud Barak is Israel’s Defense Minister and, as such, is the person ludicrously in charge of security in Samaria–a situation that is absolutely, positively pathetic.  


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