Photo Credit: Eliyashiv Rokovski / TPS
Israeli Police Chief Kobi Shabtai prays at the Tomb of the Biblical Joseph in Shechem on July 20, 2023

For the first time in the history of Israel, Israeli Police Chief Kobi Shabtai accompanied thousands of Jewish worshipers on a pilgrimage early Thursday to Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem.


Jewish worshipers travel to Joseph’s Tomb to mark the start of each month on the Hebrew calendar and to mark special days on the Jewish calendar. The right to access Joseph’s Tomb was “guaranteed” in the internationally recognized Oslo Accords, but Palestinian Authority terrorists nearly always attack those on pilgrimage and often desecrate the Tomb as well. Those on pilgrimage said special prayers ahead of Tisha B’Av, the fast day that begins next Wednesday evening, during which Lamentations is read. Tisha B’Av marks the destruction of the two Holy Temples in Jerusalem, in 586 BCE and 70 CE, as well as several other catastrophes that have befallen the Jewish People.

The early-hours pilgrimage was led by Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, Chief Rabbi of Samaria and head of the Elon Moreh Yeshiva, and Yossi Dagan, head of the Samaria Regional Council. Also among those who travelled to the site were Chanemal Dorfman, chief of staff for National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, District Police Commander Uzi Levy, District Fire and Rescue Commander Chico Ben Dov, Samaria Fire and Rescue Station Commander Avishai Safir, Rabbi Mordechai Gross, IDF Samaria Brigade Col. Shimon Siso and Division Commander Brig-Gen Avi Belot.

Shabtai: ‘For Unity, Security of Israel’
“Today we need to unite all the factions among the People of Israel, to root out the hatred and to feel that You are One and Your Name is One, and who is like Your People Israel, one Nation in the Land,” Rabbi Levanon declared after reciting a prayer.

“We are honored here by Police Chief Kobi Shabtai, a veteran in the struggle for security for the People of Israel,” Dagan said.

“Those living in Samaria salute you and thank you and through you, all of the police officers, all of the soldiers of the Border Police, the soldiers of the IDF and the entire security system.

“We draw unity from the righteous Joseph, the unifier for all the People of Israel. On the road here, and the wave of terror we endure makes clear that we are One People. Through the power of the righteous Joseph, we will unite as One Nation and build our country,” Dagan asserted.

“Thank you for your devotion and that of those you command, from the Jews of Samaria and all of the residents of the State of Israel,” Dagan added.

“For the unity of Israel, for the security of Israel, may we only have health and success on this holy day,” Shabtai responded.

Clashes with Arab Terrorists
As has happened on more than one occasion, IDF soldiers were forced to protect the thousands of Jewish worshipers from Palestinian Authority terrorists as they visited the site.

Armed terrorists hurled homemade bombs and rocks and blocked the roads to the site with flaming tires. As the worshipers approached Joseph’s Tomb, the terrorists opened fire, prompting a shootout with Israeli military forces.

The troops also used tear gas to disperse the mob.

According to the Palestinian Authority’s official WAFA news agency, one 19-year-old terrorist was critically injured in the clashes and later died at the hospital. Four others were injured and “at least 30” were treated for tear gas inhalation, including a 12-year-old who was among the attackers.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.