Tragedy was narrowly averted as security forces accompanying over 1,000 Jewish worshipers to Joseph’s Tomb adjacent to Nablus (Shechem) late Tuesday night discovered an explosive device. The cellphone activated bomb was exploded safely by IDF sappers before the worshipers entered the compound.
There were no injuries or significant damage caused by the controlled blast, and the pilgrimage to the shrine continued as planned, an Israel Defense Forces spokesperson said.
As the people left the site, their buses were attacked by rock-throwing Arabs, causing damage to one of the buses but no injuries. One Arab was arrested.
The site is considered holy by Jews as the burial site of Biblical Joseph and according to the Talmud, it is one of three places the non-Jews can never contest Jewish ownership because the Bible states explicitly that they werre purchased.
The bones of Yosef, which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt, were buried at Shechem, in the piece of ground which Yaakov had bought for a hundred kesita from the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, and which had become a heritage of the Yosefites. Joshua 24:32
The other two places are Hebron and the Temple Mount.
The building has been set on fire several times by the Arabs and Jewish worshipers are routinely attacked. In 1996, the Arabs stormed the compound, killing six IDF soldiers. In 2000, the site was turned over to Palestinian police, after which it was pillaged and burned, and a rabbi was killed, leading to the IDF prohibiting Jewish visitation. In 2002, PA police opened fore on Jews who were on their way to the site for an unauthorized visit. A young man was killed.
Jewish visitation is currently limited to once a month and worshipers must be accompanied by IDF troops.