The Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, Judaism’s second most holy site, was recently ransacked by Palestinian vandals who stole sacred objects, desecrated the sanctuary with garbage and destroyed furniture.
During the ten day closure of the Tomb of the Partiarchs in Hebron to Jewish worshipers during the month of Ramadan, Palestinian vandals stole two Mezuzot (sacred scrolls), while a third was damaged. The vandals also targeted furniture, destroyed plants in the garden, and left mud and garbage in the sancturary.
The Tomb of the Patriarchs is the second holiest shrine in the Jewish religion. The city of Hebron is mentioned 87 times in the Hebrew Bible and hosts the most ancient Jewish community on the planet, with Hebron’s Jewish history dating back to the times of the patriarchs. It is the location where the Jewish patriarchs Avraham, Yitzhak, and Ya’akov are buried alongside the Jewish matriarchs Sarah, Rivka, and Leah. Jewish tradition also teaches that the Tomb of the Patriarchs is the resting place for Adam and Eve.
During 10 days per year that hold a special significance in Islam, the entire Tomb of the Patriarchs is dedicated exclusively to Muslim worship. According to Noam Armon, spokesman for the Hebron Jewish community, desecration like this is routine, happening “after every Muslim festival.” The Tomb of the Patriarchs is a shared space of worship for both Muslims and Jews, with part of the holy site serving as a synagogue while the other is a mosque, except for 20 days per year, of which 10 are reserved for exclusive Muslim use and 10 for Jewish religious observance.
Knesset member Orit Struk, a resident of Hebron, reported: “The Arabs took the opportunity they had on Friday to desecrate the Mezuzot. We cannot be silent about this incident. For 700 years of Muslim occupation the Tomb of the Patriarchs was completely closed to Jews. Today, when the State of Israel is considerate of Muslims’ holidays and enables them full use of the site – they exploit it to harm Jewish symbols. I expect the Muslim leaders in Hebron and Israel to apologize to the Jewish People and condemn this heinous episode.”
Deputy Minister of Religious Services, Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan, upon visiting Hebron in the wake of this incident, stated: “As a Jew, I am deeply pained and distressed to witness this sacrilege in the Tomb of the Patriarchs. I cannot understand how Palestinians, who have come to pray, could commit such an ugly act. The Arab leaders should condemn these actions. I further call on the heads of state, including the President and Prime Minister to forcefully condemn this incident. We are talking about the place where our Patriarchs and Matriarchs are buried, and as a Jew, I cannot be silent. During a meeting with the police this morning I requested that they track the offenders and apprehend them. On such a devastating ‘Price Tag’ action one cannot be silent.”
AVRAHAM AVINU VANDALIZED
Additionally anti-Semitic vandals painted Hebron’s Avraham Avinu Spring which dates back to the time of the Jewish patriarchs, with swastikas. Harel Zehira, a Jewish youth group leader who discovered the swastikas, stated, “We were shocked by the spectacle. We immediately notified the security forces and worked to erase the vandalism.” Noam Armon also commented, “There is no doubt that the collaboration between world Anti-Semitism and radical Islam is a dangerous phenomenon which should be eradicated. I believe these actions do not represent most of the residents of Hebron and are the actions of a radical and dangerous minority which should be dealt with in kind.”
By Rachel Avraham, staff writer for United with Israel