Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus was visited by approximately 2,000 Jewish worshipers, led by Transportation  Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud), on Wednesday evening, when Katz affixed the first mezuza at the site since it was demolished in September 2000.

The tomb, which is considered by biblical tradition to be the resting spot of the patriarch Joseph and his two sons Ephraim and Menasseh, was looted and razed very soon after Nablus was transferred to Palestinian Authority control in September 2000 as part of agreements between Israel and the Palestinians. Renovations to the site were completed about a year ago. Wednesday’s visit and prayer service were organized by the group “Shechem Ehad” (One Nablus), which has been arranging monthly visits to the site since 2009.

Katz said at the ceremony that the time had come for Jews to return to the path of biblical Joseph, referring to both Torah study and establishing Israeli sovereignty over Jewish holy sites. Katz referred to Samaria as “the true strategic homefront of the State of Israel.”

Katz also pledged to work with the Samaria Regional Council and the local municipalities in developing the transportation infrastructure in the area to stimulate Jewish settlement in the region.

Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika called on the government to implement “what even the accursed Oslo Accords call for — Israeli control of Joseph’s Tomb, and the return of a regular and complete presence at this holy site, which is so very important to the Jewish people.”