‘A crime to visit the tomb without rabbi’s permission’

Brother of injured hassid in Nablus says shooting happened because the worshipers went without receiving the approval of the rabbi.

Nablus Shooting 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Nablus Shooting 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
“This was a crime by the young people who went in there. Going to the tomb depends on our rabbi who decides. Nothing bad has ever happened when he has given his approval.”
On Sunday morning, 21-year-old Jerusalemite, Nachum Sofer, came to Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus in Petah Tikva to sign hospital papers for his brother Yitzhak Sofer, 16, who was in moderate condition with three bullet wounds in his shoulder.
Nachum Sofer said that for him and other worshipers, approval to visit the tomb is given only by Rabbi Eliezer Berland, and that the shooting happened because the worshipers went without receiving the approval of the rabbi.
When asked if the rabbi checks with the IDF before giving his approval, Sofer said, “He doesn’t check with the army, he checks with his bosses upstairs.”
When asked if his brother was a rebellious youth who thumbed his nose at authority, Sofer said, “Maybe a little bit, but he only went there to pray, he didn’t think that something like this would happen.”
Haim Reicher, chairman of the Yesod Haolam organization that organizes visits to Joseph’s Tomb, said that part of the problem is the army’s failure to answer the needs of the many Jews seeking to pray at the holy site.
“There are hundreds of thousands of people who want to pray there and they give you what, 10 buses, once a month, once every two months, you think that’s enough?” Reicher asked.
“We don’t want to conquer this place, we don’t want to put up the Israeli flag. We just want to come and pray for five minutes. That’s what happened last night. They went to pray, and when they left and went to the cars and were leaving they were shot.
“This is what bothers us, that for 17 years we’ve been battling over this with the army and the police to increase the number of people they allow in. We don’t want it to be continuously open, but for the army to speak with us and coordinate with us more. The army isn’t to blame, they do blessed work, every single one of them. But this place is abandoned,” Reicher said.