Friday morning, approximately 400 Jews entered the Arab village of Awarta to pray at the tombs of Elazar and Itamar, named in the Bible as the sons of Aaron the Priest. Israel National News reported that the crowd of worshippers entered with heavy IDF escort.
The cave is also thought to be the burial site of the 70 members of the original Sanhedrin (rabbinic court) that judged Israel in the time of Moses. Pinchas, the son of Elazar and grandson of Aaron, is also believed to be buried there. On the western side of Awarta lies the tomb Muslims attribute to Nabi Uzeir (The prophet Ezra the Scribe).
The procession was greeted by stone throwing and several Arabs were arrested. The site was recently repaired after it had been seriously damaged by Arab vandals.
The visit coincides with the first day of the month of Av, which is the anniversary of the death of Aaron. Aaron was the only Biblical character whose death was explicitly given a date in the Bible
And Aharon the Kohen went up into mount Hor at the commandment of Hashem, and died there, in the fortieth year after B’nei Yisrael were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fifth month, on the first day of the month. Numbers 33:38
Aaron’s lineage through his sons is preserved to this day as the priestly class, and is being revived as the Temple Institute works towards creating the Third Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount.
The site is also considered holy by the Samaritans, who have invested heavily in repairing the vandalism perpetrated by Palestinians. Awarta was a major Samaritan city between the 4th and 12th centuries.
Monday night, 24 busloads of Jewish worshipers made a pilgrimage to Joseph’s Tomb and were attacked by Arab rioters. No injuries were reported. The site has been burned down several times by Arab vandals.