Photo Credit: Courtesy
Brigadier General Eran Niv (reclining) with Od Yosef Chai yeshiva alumni.

A meeting was held during the holiday of Sukkot between the commander of the Judea and Samaria Division, Brig. Gen. Eran Niv, his Chief of Staff, Elitzur Trabelsi, and the head of Yeshivat Od Yosef Chai in Yitzhar, Rabbi Yossi Elitzur and a representative of the yeshiva, Menachem Ben Shachar, in which the division commander said, according to the participants, that the renewed control of Joseph’s Tomb is a complex but possible task, Tikshoret Nechona reported Thursday.

During the conversation, in the sukkah of real estate developer Lior Zeberg, the two representatives of the yeshiva expressed their hope of returning to Joseph’s Tomb and correcting the “disgrace of abandoning the gravesite.” They gave the commander a coin commemorating the 18th anniversary of the abandonment of the tomb.

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Elitzur and Ben Shachar noted that “the new status quo in Shechem was created by the rioting of a murderous mob eighteen years ago to the day. The army behaved in a cowardly fashion back then, and just fled – there’s no greater prize than that to terrorists and murderers.”

They added that “the people of Israel will not accept such a national disgrace. There is no reason for the State of Israel to allow the continuation of the brutal takeover and anarchy, and fail to act as a legitimate sovereign. The concerns about the Arabs’ reaction should be put in perspective: even the transfer of the American embassy to Jerusalem eventually proceeded quietly despite expectations, warnings and professional assessments to the contrary.”

Brigadier General Niv admitted that mistakes had indeed been made during the fighting in Shechem and added that “the Joseph Tomb compound, as mentioned in the original Oslo agreement, can be re-taken. It would be a somewhat complex but possible task, it all depends on the discretion of the political echelon. The army knows how to carry out such a mission, like any other mission, naturally.”

The division commander stressed the need for an orderly work with the political echelon, in legal ways and without violence. “It is a democratic country and anyone who wants to act to renew the Jewish presence in Shechem must act strictly through legal means to promote this,” he said.

The yeshiva representatives, for their part, complained about the state’s feeble acceptance of the ongoing Arab violence, starting with the burning of Joseph’s Tomb to the present day, which includes terrorizing the convoys of worshipers entering Shechem from time, secured by the army.

“Why are the protected pilgrimages to Joseph’s Tomb always made in the middle of the night?” they asked. “We are not interested in entering Shechem like frightened thieves, but in broad daylight, with national Jewish pride.”

Niv answered that this is the status quo today, and there is no plan at the moment to change it. “If there is ever a demand from the political echelon, we will find ways to implement it,” he reiterated.

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