Nearly 4,000 Jews on 65 buses arrived from across the country to pray at Joseph's Tomb in Shechem (Nablus) overnight Thursday/Friday, on the occasion of counting the Omer. Last night's Omer day has been attributed to the Biblical Joseph and a visit is made in its honor every year.
The visit was made under IDF protection and the organization of the Samaria Regional Council, as well as the director of the site. The visit, the largest in a year, extended from 11:00 pm Thursday until the small hours of Friday morning.
Notable visits included appearances from Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika and deputy head of the council, Yossi Dagan; senior IDF commander of Central Command, Gen. Roni Numa; commander of the Judea and Samaria Division, Brigadier General Tamir Yid'i; Samaria Brigade Colonel Shay Klapper; Ephraim Brigade commander, Col. Guy Berger; and Menashe Brigade Commander, Col. Oren Zini.
Also visiting were Rabbi Mordechai Gross, head of Yeshivat Ha-Meiri in Jerusalem and Deputy head of Lifshitz College Rabbi Shmuel Zafrani; Rabbi of Jerusalem, Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar; head of Yeshivat Chut Shel Chessed and senior rabbi of the Breslov movement, Rabbi Shalom Arush; and former Jewish Home MK Shuli Muallem-Refaeli.
"This is a historic event when thousands of Jews come to express solidarity with this holy place," Samaria Regional Council leader Gershon Mesika stated. "It's very symbolic that on this same evening, the new government was sworn in. Hence, we call on the national government today to apply full sovereignty " over the site.
"Under the Oslo Accords, the tomb of Joseph was supposed to be under Israeli sovereignty – but in fact we come here like thieves in the night, not realizing the right to one of the holiest sites for the Jewish people," he noted.
Acting Regional Council head Dagan explained the importance of the event and thanked the Central Command officers for providing security for mass prayer.
"This is the most significant entrance to Joseph's Tomb this year," he said.
"The Council has a responsibility not only to the construction, education or community life [within Judea-Samaria – ed.] but also to the holy places and significant sites people of Israel, and the tomb is the most important one," he added. "The Samaria Regional Council will continue efforts with the IDF and Director of the tomb in order to maintain and preserve the site."