Photo Credit: Yishai Fleisher

After years of legal battles and delays, the Ministry of Defense has commenced with construction to make the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron accessible to the disabled.

The Cave of the Patriarchs accessibility solution includes the construction of an access road from the parking lot to the cave plaza, and a staircase with a bridge that will allow worshipers of all religions to reach the site, the Ministry of Defense stated Monday.

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The construction is expected to last six months.

The holy site is currently accessible only by a very long set of stairs.

Member of Knesset Ophir Sofer stated “better late than never. After years of procrastination, Minister of Defense Ganz did well when he approved the accessibility of the Cave of the Patriarchs for the disabled.”

This crucial stage appears to be the last phase in several years of legal battles and stalling by the various governments which were hesitant in moving forward with this relatively small project because of the possible diplomatic fallout.

Palestinian Authority officials have claimed that Israel’s plans to make the site accessible to people with disabilities are “Israeli aggression” and “Judaization,” and the PA’s Supreme Shari’ah Judge Mahmoud Al-Habbash threatened in September 2020 that such “aggression” will “have a cost” and warned that “the Palestinians are prepared to do anything” while describing Israel’s activities at the Cave as “tantamount to igniting a religious war in the region and in the world.”

PA Minister of Foreign Affairs Riyad Al-Malki has described Israel’s improvement of conditions at the Cave of the Patriarchs as a “war crime.”

The Palestinian Authority has denied any Jewish connection to the site.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.