Settler leaders protest dearth of buses to Joseph’s Tomb

Settlers, right-wing politicians are in midst of campaign to return tomb, located at site of biblical city of Shechem, to Israeli control.

Josephs Tomb 311 (photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
Josephs Tomb 311
(photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika on Sunday night boycotted the monthly midnight trip Jewish worshipers make to Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, to protest the lack of adequate busing to the holy site.
He said he had asked for entry for 32 buses but received permission for only 20. He added that he was also not allowed to use a council vehicle to bring officials to the tomb.
RELATED:Lawmakers visit Joseph’s Tomb 1st time in over decade Settler's gather to celebrate J'lem Day at Joseph's TombIDF clashes with Jewish infiltrators in Nablus
Dani Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, similarly opted not to attend.
Settlers and right-wing politicians are in the midst of a lobby campaign to return the tomb, located at the site of the biblical city of Shechem, to Israeli control, so that worshipers can access it on a daily basis.
At present, they can only travel there from midnight to dawn once a month under IDF escort.
As a result, worshipers tend to sneak in under cover of darkness to pray at the tomb. In April, one such worshiper, Ben-Yosef Livnat, was killed by Palestinian police.
Dayan said he has spoken with the army about improving access to the tomb, but that to date, they have refused to make any changes in that regard.
“We will continue to work to remove the restrictions and to restore the tomb to Israeli control,” he said.
Late Sunday night and early Monday morning there were seven arrests as Jews headed to the tomb under IDF escort.
One minor was arrested at Tapuah junction after getting into a confrontation with a Palestinian, police said.
Five people were arrested for trying to sell fake tickets to people seeking to board the buses, a police spokeswoman said.
And a vehicle containing nine people – a driver and eight passengers – was stopped after trying to burst through police lines to reach the tomb. The driver was arrested and the passengers were released, the spokeswoman said.
She said the visit to the tomb was “orderly” on the whole and passed off without incident due to the good conduct of the worshipers.