Thursday, December 25, 2008

From Destruction and Violation To Rennovation

Hundreds of settlers enter Joseph's Tomb on Wednesday night, accompanied by Israel Defense Forces soldiers. The visit followed a renovation of the site, considered the burial place of biblical patriarch Joseph, which had been desecrated by Palestinians over the past few years.

Amazing, eh?

After all,

Under the 1993 Oslo Accords, which granted nearby strategic territory to the Palestinians, Joseph's Tomb was supposed to be accessible to Jews and Christians.

When the Palestinians signed the Oslo II agreement, they promised to "ensure free access to, respect the ways of worship in, and not make any changes to, the Jewish holy sites" on land given up by Israel. [They made the same promise in the Gaza-Jericho accord in 1994 and the Hebron accord in 1997.] Among the listed sites: the venerable "Peace Upon Israel" (shalom al yisrael) synagogue in Jericho and the yeshiva at Joseph's Tomb in Nablus. Today, neither exists. In October, Palestinians burned down the synagogue. They smashed Joseph's Tomb to rubble and trampled its holy books, and announced that a mosque would be built on the site.

Yes, really, it's ours

But following repeated attacks against Jewish worshippers at the holy site by gunmen associated with then-Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat's militias, then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak in October 2000 ordered an Israeli unilateral retreat from the area.

Gershon Mesika, head of the Shomron Regional Council, is responsible for the rennovation work.

This year the Shomron Regional Council and the "Shchem Echad" association initiated visits to the gravesite, accompanied by IDF soldiers. The visitors were shocked by the condition of the gravestone, which had turned into a pile of stones. The entire site was burned and filled with heaps of trash. In light of the gravestone's severe condition, it was decided to try and renovate it. A group of Jewish professionals arrived at the site on Monday night, renovated the gravestone and cleaned the gravesite...

..."We feel pain over the situation at Joseph's Tomb in the past nine years," said Yehuda Liebman of the "Shchem Echad" association. "We view this act as the first step in repairing what is needed: Returning the situation to its previous condition and repairing it."

By the way, while the story claims only "settlers" were there, I know that on the bus I returned home on last night there were a half-dozen Yeshiva boys, Americans from Jerusalem, going there.

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