Tomb of Josef, Nablus.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Jewish holy site of Joseph’s Tomb in the Palestinian city of Nablus was restored and repaired Tuesday by the Shomron Regional Council after it was set ablaze and severely damaged by Palestinian rioters last month.
A team of 50 workers, including stone masons, painters, welders and electricians arrived at the site at 1:00 a.m. on Tuesday with an IDF escort to carry out the necessary repairs and worked through the night until approximately 6:00 a.m. to complete the restoration.
The most serious damage was done to the stone tomb itself inside the external structure as the rioters smashed and broke several marble panels overlaid on the tomb with hammers, iron bars and other instruments.
The restoration work replaced the marble around the tomb, as well as repainting the site and repairing and replacing lighting and other infrastructure that was damaged in the attack.
The repairs cost approximately NIS 100,000 and were covered by the Shomron Regional Council.
“The sovereign over Joseph’s Tomb is the Jewish people, and so the Jewish people have restored this place of rest of one of its ancestors,” said Davidi Ben Tzion, deputy chairman of the Shomron Regional Council.
Ben Tzion also took the opportunity to protest the severely limited access for Jews to the site.
“We demand that the government of Israel enforce its sovereignty and allow access every day for Jews, not like thieves in the night but in an appropriate manner as is legally and ethically required.”
Under the Oslo Accords, Jews are allowed regular access to the site but only access the tomb once a month in the middle of the night when the IDF secures the roads that lead to the site.
The Book of Joshua records that the biblical figure Joseph was buried in the city of Shechem, close to present day Nablus. The tomb is believed to be his final resting place, although there is an archeological debate on the issue.
Historically, the site has been revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims. In the last 15 years, however, it has been targeted repeatedly by Palestinian rioters and vandals and was badly gutted by another arson attack in 2000.
It was only restored after that incident in 2011.