IDF to Allow Organized Visits to Joseph's Tomb Once Every Three Weeks

Restrictions will be eased for Jewish worshippers.

The Israel Defense Forces is set to increase the frequency of organized visits to Joseph's Tomb in Nablus to once every three weeks. The army has been reviewing its procedures since the killing of worshipper Ben-Yosef Livnat near the site by Palestinian police in April. Livnat was taking part in an unorganized visit.

The IDF prefers to allow access to the tomb once a month, while the settlers want once a week. The settlers say a lack of organized visits increases the motivation to risk visiting the tomb illicitly.

Joseph’s Tomb
Moti Milrod

The army says an organized visit once a week would put too much strain on its troops. But it still intends to increase the frequency of visits.

The main advocate for this is Col. Nimrod Aloni, commander of the Samaria Division in charge of Nablus. In the complex relationship between the settlers and the army, Nimrodi is seen as the settlers' friend within the system.

"When I took the job I was told Joseph's Tomb was a headache," Aloni told the local regional council's newsletter three months ago. "I saw that it was really important, and as a secular person who has never been to sages' tombs, it took me a while to learn what people were looking for there. I'm a person who sees things very simply, and I understood that Joseph, with his nationalism and righteousness, symbolizes something big and important.

On the last organized visit, on Sunday night, forces roughly the size of a brigade were deployed in the city, including special forces and a drone that monitored events from above.

The IDF Spokesman's Office says that ever since the killing of Livnat, Central Command has been reviewing the issue of organized visits to the tomb. The army said the work is not yet complete.