IDF forces entered Shechem morning (Wednesday) to secure the restoration of the Yosef Tomb complex, which was damaged twice by Arabs earlier this week. Unlike its regular operations in PA cities––under cover of night, this time the IDF deliberately entered Shechem in broad daylight with large and visible forces, something it hasn’t done for many years.
The commander of the Samaria Brigade, Col. Roi Zweig-Lavi, issued the following order to his soldiers at the start of the operation: “Today we are embarking on an operation to repair the destruction of Joseph’s tomb. In this place, the land was promised to our forefather Abraham, as it is said, ‘To your seed I shall give this land.’ And we are operating today “with an outstretched arm,’ like our forefathers, about whose exodus from Egypt on Passover–which we’ll celebrate in three days–the scripture says ‘On this very day!’ Not like thieves in the night, but as sons of kings! And so, we merit to restore the honor of the land and the people of Israel. Combat posts start traffic to the city of Shechem.”
Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, MK Ram Ben Barak (Yesh Atid) told Reshet Bet radio Wednesday morning: “Joseph’s tomb is our responsibility. If damage is done there it needs to be repaired. This was done in coordination with the Palestinian Authority. I hope the forces will leave in peace and return in peace.”
לאחר שהושחת. צוותים של מועצה אזורית שומרון נכנסו תחת אבטחה כבדה של צהל לתוך מתחם קבר יוסף שבשכם pic.twitter.com/U5OE0uKFr7
— Elisha Ben Kimon אלישע בן קימון (@elishabenkimon) April 13, 2022
Head of Samaria Regional Council Yossi Dagan said in a statement: “This is a historic day. We arrived here at dawn, and in broad daylight, just before the Holiday of Freedom, to restore the national honor of the people of Israel and the desecrated honor of Joseph. The barbarian rioters schooled by the Palestinian Authority knew very well why they were burning and destroying the tomb of Joseph the righteous. They know that as long as the people of Israel living in Israel and abroad––led by the settlements in Samaria––continue to visit their holy places and national heritage sites, they can’t defeat us.”
Dagan is leading the renovation operation at the site together with the staff of the Samaria Regional Council, the director of the Joseph’s Tomb and the Holy Places near the Samaria Regional Council Nathaniel Snir, and the Har Kabir construction company from Elon Moreh.
On Sunday morning, PA Arabs broke into the compound, which is under shared Israeli-PA control but the IDF is present there only to protect worshippers on pre-scheduled dates. PA media reports the hundred or so Arab rioters damaged the gravesite in solidarity with the terrorists in Jenin who have been raided and arrested since the murder sprees in four major Israeli cities.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in response to the Arab vandalism: “I saw the pictures and was shocked. We will not accept such an attack on our holy place, on the eve of Passover, and we’ll get the rioters. Of course, we will make sure to rebuild what they destroyed, as we always do.”
The compound was breached and vandalized again the following day.