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Monday, August 11, 2003

Monday Morning in Nablus

Palestinian gunmen from the Al Aqsa Brigades march in the center of Nablus, shooting in the air and calling for Palestinian people not to work with Israelis nor buy Israeli products, in the West Bank town of Nablus, Monday Aug. 11, 2003. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)

While the Arabic name of this place is Nablus, derived from the Roman name, Neapolis, for Jews and Christians it is the biblical Shechem. Shechem was the first stop of Avraham Avinu when he came into Canaan, and the place where Hashem promised him that the Land would be given to his descendants (Bereshit/Genesis 12:6-7). Later, Jacob would return here with his family and settle. Jacob purchased land in Schechem (Bereshit/Genesis 33:19), and when he died he handed it down to his son Joseph (Bereshit/Genesis 48:22). Joseph's Tomb is in Shechem:
And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, they buried in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob purchased from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem, for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph (Joshua 24:32).

Until August 2000 --

THE EVENTS AT JOSEPH'S TOMB IN NABLUS From the IDF Spokesperson (8.10.00):
The Tomb of the Patriarch Joseph is a recognized Jewish holy site, which also houses a yeshiva (a Jewish religious seminar). During the last few days massive shooting and attacks by Palestinians took place against the border policemen securing this site.

During these incidents a border policemen was wounded. The agreement between the IDF and the Palestinian security forces specified that it was the Palestinians' responsibility to evacuate the wounded policeman. The Palestinian forces could not evacuate the wounded policeman because of the heavy rioting at the site. As a result of the delay, the wounded Israeli policeman, Yusuf Madhat, died.

The shooting by Palestinians at Joseph's Tomb and the hindering of the evacuation of the wounded policeman are a violation of all international agreements and ad hoc understandings.

Since the signing of the Israeli-Palestinian interim agreements in Washington, in September 1995, the PA has been responsible for the security of the Jewish holy sites in Area A. The agreements also stated that joint patrols in the area would allow free access and safe use of the site, and Israel would also had the right to place guards inside the Tomb compound. The events are in clear violation of the PA's commitment in the Interim Agreement to protect the Tomb. The site was attacked with live fire, stones, and firebombs. Despite this, those present in the compound succeeded in withstanding the attacks, and stopped several attempts by armed Palestinians to break in.

Acting on the recommendation of the Chief of Staff and the Chief of the General Security Service, the Prime Minister (who is also the Minister of Defense), decided, on October 6, to temporarily evacuate Joseph's Tomb, leaving it under the protection and full responsibility of the PA. The decision to evacuate the Tomb was based on the desire of both sides to avoid bloodshed and lower the level of violence in the area.

The PA pledged to return the Tomb to its original state after the evacuation, and after the violence had settled down. They also pledged to look after the site and prevent any vandalism. This pledge was brazenly violated about two hours after the evacuation, when a Palestinian mob entered the Tomb compound and began to systematically destroy everything in sight, including all remnants of the yeshiva, the furniture, and books that were left behind. The Palestinian police failed to prevent this any of these violent activities, despite their pledge to guard the Tomb. The damage to this holy site resulted in the further escalation of the situation, which was already tense anyway.

These events are evidence of:
1. A flagrant violation of signed agreements;
2. A breach of confidence, following the pledge to protect the holy site, and to care for it after its evacuation.
3. The desecration of holy places, undermining the Palestinians' claim that they are the guardians of the holy places in Jerusalem and the Temple Mount (al-Haram al-Sharif).

The events at Joseph's Tomb clearly show that the Palestinians cannot be trusted to control events under their jurisdiction, despite signed and binding agreements to that effect. It is another example of their consistent violation of agreements, which can also be seen in the attack on the police station on Temple Mount.

See also "Arab vandals desecrate Joseph's tomb" (February 2003) at WorldNetDaily. I remember this; WND was the only American media outlet to pick up the story.

For the even vaguely religious, Rabbi Pinchas Winston's "The Destruction of Joseph's Tomb" at Aish.com will be of further interest.