Yishai says will lock himself in Samuel's tomb

Statement comes in protest of Civil Administration closing tomb for three to four hours nightly to prevent derelicts from spending the night there.

Eli Yishai (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Eli Yishai
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Interior Minister Eli Yishai warned Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday that he’d entrench himself overnight at the 11th-century Crusader’s fortress by the gravesite of the prophet Samuel (Nebe Samuel), alongside hundreds of worshipers, if a solution to the recent dispute over the site’s operating hours were not reached.
Since the beginning of the week, the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria, which is in charge of the Jewish holy site 1 kilometer northwest of Jerusalem’s Ramot neighborhood, has been closing it for three to four hours nightly to prevent derelicts from spending the night there.
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The decision followed a recent rise in incidents of vandalism at the site, and is part of a general plan to regulate the facilities and the visiting hours at the compound, which also contains a mosque and church.
A spokesman for the civil administration also stressed that the site would remain open all night on Thursdays and on Rosh Hodesh, since those are nights with a large influx of visitors. He added that requests to hold nightlong events at the site would also be positively considered.
However, among figures such as MK Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism) and Yishai (Shas), the decision to close the site is perceived as a unilateral move following discussions the sides had been holding before the High Holy Days about the problems at the site.
Dozens of protesters have been arriving at the closed compound for the past few nights to protest the closure, and Maklev has been serving as a mediator between the sides.
The UTJ MK will also be convening his Public Petitions Committee next Tuesday for a hearing on the topic, but sources close to him hope that the issue will be resolved to the satisfaction of both sides in the immediate future.