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April 28, 2011 11:10 pm

Our “Peace Partners,” Our Terrorists

avatar by Josh Hasten

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Joseph's Tomb in Shechem. Photo: Shuki

“We have found a solution to the matter of Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus… The current agreement will enable students to travel daily to the Tomb. The inside of the Tomb will be guarded by armed Israelis. The area will be guarded by the Palestinian Police according to the currently existing format and according to the procedures for movement and prayer at the “Shalom al-Yisrael” synagogue in Jericho.”

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin – Ratification of the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement (delivered at the Knesset October 5, 1995 – taken from the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs website www.mfa.gov.il)

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The Tomb of our Patriarch Joseph, son of Jacob, located in the ancient Jewish town of Shechem (Nablus), is one of only three Holy Sites in all of Judaism whose precise location is known to us unequivocally, thus confirming their sanctity (the other two are the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron).  Since Joseph’s Tomb is such a special site, the negotiations leading to the Interim “Peace” Agreement between Israel and the PA under Oslo specifically mentioned Joseph’s Tomb by name in regard to proposed joint security arrangements.

However, like most other agreements under the disastrous Oslo Accords, the PA failed to live up to its end of the bargain. In October 2000, following an IDF gun battle with terrorists at the site, Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Barak (ironically, our Defense Minister today) ordered a military pullback from the Tomb. Shortly after the retreat (yes, it was a cowardly retreat), an Arab mob ransacked, defiled, and burned a large part of the compound to the ground.  The yeshiva, which called the compound home, was subsequently moved to a nearby Jewish community.

In 2007, Jews began returning to the site on a monthly basis, but only in the middle of the night and in coordination with the IDF and PA forces. I had the privilege of visiting the Tomb a few weeks before Passover in 2009 (see my Facebook account for pictures), and my visit was marked with mixed emotions. On one hand it was extremely emotional seeing hundreds of worshippers traveling to the Tomb to pay their respects and gain inspiration from the site. I was particularly moved by some of the non-religious IDF soldiers of both genders who were there guarding our entourage, taking out prayer books and Psalms to participate in the moment.  On the other hand, it was disturbing that our group was taken into the city only with bulletproof vehicles, at around 2 am, and for a limited one-hour window.  Why should we as Jews have to “sneak” around like robbers in the middle of the night to simply practice our faith?

This week’s terror attack, in which Ben-Yosef Livnat, a father of four and the nephew of Member of Knesset Limor Livnat, was gunned down by a member of the PA police while exiting the Tomb (several others were wounded), highlights yet again, ad-nauseam, why the PA can’t be trusted to provide security for Israelis. According to survivors of the attack, the PA policemen who opened fire on the group of worshipers were shouting “allahu akbar” (G-d is great), the typical chant of terrorists, as they carried out their murderous rampage.  These chants indicate that this was not a fluke, an accident, or a misunderstanding, but similar to the precision attack on a Jewish school bus near Gaza several weeks ago. This was a premeditated act.

It’s no coincidence that one of the first Israelis murdered in the “Oslo War” which started in September of 2000 was Israeli Border Police member Supt. Yosef Tabeja, 27, who was shot to death by his PA security counterpart on a joint patrol near Kalkilya. Israel must once and for all admit that Rabin’s security “solution” at Joseph’s Tomb, or anywhere else throughout Judea and Samaria, was based on a faulty premise. The evidence is clear. Instead of PA policemen using their guns to fight terrorists, they once again are the terrorists.

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