Activists given special entry to Joseph’s Tomb

Visitors clean site in West Bank city of Nablus ahead of annual commemoration expected to attract thousands

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

A group of religious activists were permitted a special visit to Joseph’s Tomb in the West Bank city of Nablus late Wednesday night to clean and prepare the site for a larger gathering later this month marking the anniversary of the Biblical figure’s death.

Among those present were Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan and the council’s controversial rabbi Elyakim Levanon.

Among the renovations carried out by the visitors was the installation of synthetic grass at the site.

The anniversary of Joseph’s death is traditionally marked on the 41st day of the Omer — the seven-week period between the festivals of Passover and Shavuot — which falls on May 22 this year. The Samaria Regional Council said it is expecting thousands to mark the occasion.

Jews at prayer in Joseph's Tomb in the West Bank city of Nablus during a previous visit as IDF soldiers stand guard (photo credit: Abir Sultan/Flash90)
File: Jews at prayer in Joseph’s Tomb in the West Bank city of Nablus as IDF soldiers stand guard. (Abir Sultan/Flash90)

Joseph’s tomb is located inside Area A of the West Bank, under complete Palestinian Authority control. The IDF bars Israeli citizens from entering Area A without prior authorization.

The site is venerated by Jews, Christians and Muslims and has often been a flashpoint for sectarian violence. Jewish pilgrims are usually only allowed to visit the tomb once a month under heavy-armed guard. During these visits, Palestinians routinely throw rocks at the troops, though there have been incidents where shots were fired at the troops.

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