Knesset panel: Security at Rachel’s Tomb insufficient

Though MKs asked IDF, Police and Border Patrol officers to allow visitors to walk to the tomb, they were rebuffed due to security concerns.

November 4, 2011 07:38
1 minute read.
People praying at Rachel's Tomb.

Rachel's Tomb_311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

The security arrangements at Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem are insufficient to protect the 120,000 visitors expected for the anniversary of Rachel’s death on Tuesday night, the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Subcommittee for Civil and Security Issues in Judea and Samaria determined during a visit to the site on Thursday.

Rachel’s Tomb is in a neighborhood controlled by the Palestinian Authority, and can only be reached through one narrow road, according to a statement released by the subcommittee.

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Though MKs asked IDF, Police and Border Patrol officers to allow visitors to walk to the tomb, saying increased security would allow for it as well as better crowd control, they were rebuffed due to security concerns.

Last year Jerusalem Police barred private vehicles from the tomb area, and again this year, buses will shuttle people into the compound secured by the IDF.

Subcommittee and coalition chairman MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) said that “doing simple math is enough to understand that during the event’s busiest hours, between eight p.m. and one a.m., there will be huge crowds, and visitors will be stuck for at least two hours in the waiting area for buses,” located in Jerusalem.

The site is not built to accommodate such a high number of visitors, the subcommittee’s statement said.

MK Israel Eichler (United Torah Judaism) said the state makes a greater effort and is more prepared for Christian events in Bethlehem or Muslim events on the Temple Mount.

“We can already see that the whole plan is a failure, even before the event occurs,” MK Arye Eldad (National Union) said.

Last year Rabbi Yosef Shvinger, director of the National Center for Holy Sites, said he expected around 60,000 people to arrive to the site for prayers, mostly women.

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